Thursday, February 24, 2011

Do We Know About Practicing Law

My school is not alone in hearing that it's students are really not prepared to practice law. The complaints I hear are primarily about writing and research skills. I am happy to say that there seems to be a collective effort to change this.

The problem is: Do we know anything about it? How many law professors actually practiced law? Probably quite a few but how many did in the last 20 years? How many actually came from a clerkship or graduate program to law teaching? Do they really know what a beginning lawyer is expected to do? It's risky to leave the redesigning to people who have not practiced law in the last 20 years if at all.

If people have not experienced practicing law in the last 20 years there may be a tendency to imagine that students need skills they would primarily need if law were practiced the way the professor wishes it were practiced. This would be a world without zero-sum games, win-win outcomes, and high level debate about what Justice this or that meant. In that world, I doubt there are scores of boxes to go through looking for a specific piece of evidence that will assist the client or could be a land mind. I doubt it is a world in which 20 depositions must be taken in a month at places hundreds of miles apart.

I worry that third year student Zack will show up for an interview and announce his specialty is collaborative lawyering or the economic analysis of law and the interviewers will just say "next please."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having graduated a few years ago, I'm familiar with both law professors and practicing law as a new associate.

Not only are law professors unaware of what it takes to practice law, I don't think most of them would be capable of doing it if they were ever forced to actually practice.