Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Law Schools Still Not Teaching Lawyering

Despite the Carnegie and MacCrate reports, the NY Times reports that law schools are still not teaching law students the art of lawyering. Last Sunday's article by David Segal - What They Don't Teach Law Students: Lawyering - is yet another call for a more practice oriented curriculum in law school. The article details the efforts by law firms to teach first year associates how to actually practice law.

According to the article, the old model of having firms teach associates how to practice may be permanently broken:
... for decades, clients have essentially underwritten the training of new lawyers, paying as much as $300 an hour for the time of associates learning on the job. But the downturn in the economy, and long-running efforts to rethink legal fees, have prompted more and more of those clients to send a simple message to law firms: Teach new hires on your own dime.
Clients just won't stand on having an unqualified attorney handle any part of their case:
Last year, a survey by American Lawyer found that 47 percent of law firms had a client say, in effect, “We don’t want to see the names of first- or second-year associates on our bills.” Other clients are demanding that law firms charge flat fees.
Readers of this blog may recall a recent post about value billing. This is a direct result of this kind of client attitude and the need to measure the client's reaction to the firm's rate structure.

The net result? Again, from the article:
The legal services market has shrunk for three consecutive years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Altogether, the top 250 firms — which hired 27 percent of graduates from the top 50 law schools last year — have lost nearly 10,000 jobs since 2008, according to an April survey by The National Law Journal.
This is all part of a discussion that may actually result in some positive change in favor of a more practice oriented curriculum.

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