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What They Don’t Teach Law Students: Lawyering

Interesting article in today’s New York Times, What They Don’t Teach Law Students: Lawyering, describing what’s wrong with law school methodology and how law students graduate lacking the ability to do even basic legal practice.  Law firms are now taking upon themselves to teach their first year associates how to practice law.  Some are even foregoing having their new associates bill clients and some clients are refusing to pay for first and second year associates’ work.

The biggest issues appear to be that law students are paying for a lot of legal scholarship from their professors that goes unread and that law schools have a bias against hiring experienced practitioners to teach their students.  I know that none of the 400 blogs, 45 lectures or 20 published pieces (not to mention the dozens of appeals I’ve researched, drafted and argued) would convince any law school that I am a scholar of the law.  Evidently, publishing a work “Why Nonexistent People Do Not Have Zero Well-Being but Rather No Well-Being” would qualify me as a legal scholar.   So tempting.

  • Greg:

    I wrote a fairly long response and I am not sure whether it was sent or whether it was lost. If lost, I am not going to write it again. If you received it, add the following:

    I think Temple School of Law did a good job in 1991.

  • Amber

    This is very true, and so very frustrating for the new grads who find that they have sunk themselves into an insane amount of debt for a nice education on history and theory, and still have not a clue what to actually, you know, DO, nor how to walk clients through the process and explain what to expect at each step.

    It would be a little like signing up would-be employees at Starbucks on years of study on the history of coffee brewing, trade routes and pioneering farming techniques, the corporate structure of Starbucks itself, the ethics of not co-mingling your wallet with the cash register, the boardroom politics and the development of the pricing and marketing decisions… and then told them, “Okay! Now go make great coffee!” and never bothered to give them the simple charts that say things like: for this recipe, 2 shots espresso and X ounces of milk, or here’s how to troubleshoot if this machine starts blinking amber. You just get to find out through trial and error, or (if you are fortunate enough not to have been hired by the kinds of firms that hire a lot of new grads with no experience and have high turnover, in other words, the people most likely to hire YOU) through completely leaning on more experienced members.

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