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Carnegie Report: Law Schools Receive Failing Grade

Posted in Marketing Tips

It’s exciting to see a prestigious organization, as in the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, take law schools to task for their failure to prepare law students for the real world. Particularly, when you realize that as many as 80% of new grads practice as solos or in small firms, according to the immediate past president of the ABA, Michael Greco. But, even lawyers intending to practice with larger firms, ought to have an understanding of real life in the legal world, since many leave BigLaw for smaller firms.

The Chronicle of Higher Education in today’s edition has an article entitled “A Plea for Real-World Training in Law Schools” that is based on a new report by the Foundation. The article reports that medical, business, nursing, divinity and engineering schools revised their curriculum over the years, and include clinical courses to better prepare their graduates. It goes on to say that law schools haven’t revised their curriculum in the past century, but fortunately, some are seriously looking at the issue. Further, the article quotes Dean Larry Kramer of Stanford Law School as saying:

“You can’t imagine someone graduating from medical school without spending time in a hospital, and you can’t be a rabbi without some serious clinical experience,” Mr. Kramer says. “Law is about the only profession that doesn’t require it. That’s wrong, and it needs to be corrected.”

As I have discussed before (one might say, ranted about in earlier posts – here and here), law schools have failed to meet their obligation IMHO in preparing young lawyers for the real world. What a shame, and they should be very ashamed.

What has this to do with legal marketing? Everything! Recent graduates are unprepared for the day-to-day realities of practicing law, including developing business (and most of the 80% mentioned earlier will require those skills almost immediately, unlike their BigLaw counterparts). Additionally, these young lawyers are woefully lacking in the client relationship skills that are so vital, not only to developing business, but having a successful long-term practice.

Click here for a summary of Carnegie’s report on “Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law”

  • Tom, I couldn’t agree more with your last paragraph on business skills. In Brazil we have exactly the same situation. Most lawyers leave law school to immediately open a small law firm, without a clue on how to manage it. To compare with the 80% in US, in São Paulo, the biggest state, with 50% of all lawyers in Brazil, 95% of the law firms have up to five partners. This percentage probably will be the same for the rest of the country.