An article on yesterday’s New York Lawyer.com site asks the question “Where Are All the (lawyer) Wannabees?” It reports that law school applications are down by as much as 4.6% this year, continuing a three year decline.
Now… stand by… here is my far out hypothesis that actually may not be that far out. Could college students and grads be hearing stories from friends, relatives, alums, who are or know lawyers that make up more than 40% of law school graduates who go solo (or the 80% according to former ABA President Michael Greco who practice as solos or in small firms)? And those stories could include tales about how the vast majority of lawyers are not starting out with (or even making anywhere near) salaries in the $150,000 range. Even with years of experience under their belts, most are not making anything close to that. You can count on it.
I have been a long time critic of law schools for not developing as part of their curriculum the skills lawyers will need to practice law in the real world. Where else are they suppose to learn them? Of course they could have majored in professional services marketing in college or business school before going to law school – RIGHT!!
Before noting why law firms themselves should be concerned about this lack of law school “real world” training, let me refer you to several other posts that you (and I hope, I hope a member of the faculty – god forbid a dean) might find interesting on the subject:
- Do Law Schools Have a Duty to Prepare Solos for Survival?
- Carnegie Report: Law Schools Receive Failing Grade
- Teaching the Business Side of Law In Law Schools
- Coaching Can Help Achieve What Law Schools Failed To Teach
The bigger question may be: why should law firms or practicing lawyers care? Well, it might just ease the cost and time needed to train associates and junior partners in business development skills which will be needed for the long term viability of most law firms. The issue is even more critical in smaller firms and with solos, since these lawyers will need to develop rainmaking skills and contribute to developing business much earlier than those in larger firms.