An opinion piece in The National Law Journal by a third-year law student echoes what I’ve been saying for years: law schools are great at teaching their students how to think like lawyers, but fail miserably at teaching them how to actually be lawyers.

The article comments on the ABA’s Standards Review Committee’s proposal to require law schools to provide greater transparency when it comes to providing a clear picture of the value of a law degree.  The author argues that many law schools paint a far rosier picture than what the cold reality is once law school graduates hit the streets looking for work.  He writes:

"The ABA’s proposal is an adaptation of performance measurement — a management technique often used to transform private and public organizations. At its core, performance measurement is about using data to demand accountability and drive innovation.

"For the first time, law schools would have a potent incentive to reduce tuition and accelerate the so-far glacial movement to incorporate practical skills into legal education. By accurately measuring employment outcomes, schools will for the first time confront an unambiguous basis for evaluating their activities. And schools that perform poorly on the measure of job placement will face increased pressure to re-evaluate their educational model."

I have been teaching law firm marketing and business management to attorneys for years through state and local bar associations and our own Rainmaker Institute programs, including the Rainmaker Retreat.  In a vast majority of these sessions, at least one attorney will always ask me why they don’t teach these principles in law school.  

Apparently, more and more attorneys are finding their voices when it comes to demanding more of the legal academy, which they accuse of being disconnected from the actual practice of law.  With crushing debt loads, more and more law school graduates are finding it difficult at best to “learn on the job” what they actually need to know to start and sustain a successful legal career.

Where is your voice on this issue?  I’d be interested in hearing your comments.


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