The National Jurist - Spring 2017 - 24
the time of hiring. As a result, law firms
are increasingly evaluating these skills during the hiring process. The study goes
on to pinpoint skills that legal employers
desire new associates to have, such as the
ability to do advanced legal research.
"Hiring newly graduated lawyers without practical skills is costly to law firms,"
the report said. "In-house training programs, particularly in large firms, are filling the gap in advanced legal research,
drafting and transactional skills which are
needed in their young associates."
On average, attorneys estimated their
firms spend nearly $19,000 to train a new
"Integrating more practical skills
instruction and experiences is the best way
for law schools to better equip their graduates with the skills their future employers
need, making them more marketable and
better able to quickly contribute to their
profession," the report concludes.
Some of the country's largest companies
are thinking about how they can train
their new hires, and how schools can assist.
They know they need to prepare for the
lawyering of the future as technology plays
a part in reshaping education and business,
said Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and
chief legal officer, in a keynote address at a
recent law school conference.
The third year of law school should be
more practical and experiential in nature,
Smith said. That presents more challenges,
though, as clinics require a higher facultystudent ratio and can be more expensive.
He said that's perhaps one of the greatest needs for fundraising at law schools
across the country. A firm's clients certainly
don't want to pay for a first-year associate's
"But, somebody has to pay for a firstyear associate to get trained," Smith said.
"One great law firm in this country is
going to do the unexpected but, in fact,
something that the great management consulting firms have already done. If you
graduate from college and go straight to
one of the top-tier management consulting
firms, they basically say, 'Our expectation
is that we will not bill out at all our entrylevel people for the first six months.'"
Clients should be excited to get free
help from young attorneys who are smart
but just not yet fully trained, he said.
"You can see dominos start to fall,"
Connecting law school experiences
and post-graduate training can go hand in
hand, he said.
Yet, it's not just legal expertise and
experience that new lawyers need. In a
report released this year, Educating
Tomorrow's Lawyers cited a disconnect
between legal education's focus on legal
knowledge and the competencies new lawyers should have.
The study found "that characteristics
(such as integrity and trustworthiness,
conscientiousness and common sense), as
well as professional competencies (such as
listening attentively, speaking and writing, and arriving on time), were far more
important in brand new lawyers than legal
Washington University's Kuehn noted
that these "soft skills" are only addressed in
clinical and first-year legal writing courses.
The daughter of small business owners,
Sarah Ambach had seen first hand the
work that goes into getting a business off
the ground and running it successfully.
Ambach wanted to help entrepreneurs,
and she knew getting firsthand experience
in law school would pave the road for
her career. She was drawn to a school in a
Rust Belt city that's been called an "unexpected" hub for tech startups: University
of Cincinnati College of Law.
Ambach, who is scheduled to earn her
J.D. this spring, has participated in the
school's Entrepreneurship and Community
Development Clinic and has had several
externships, which allowed her to help
business owners and tech startups. As a
result, she has gained experience in drafting documents, assisting with intellectual
property matters and filing incorporation
"When they have these clinic opportunities, you're getting this hands-on
work and client face time," said Ambach,
who also founded the school's studentrun Entrepreneurship Law Club. "You're
handling the relationship from the initial
meeting to filing documents to closing
out. In most normal settings, you're not
getting to be one-on-one with a client
until a couple of years in. This is giving
you that experience while you're in law
University of Cincinnati is among
the schools that improved the most this
year. The school's Center for Professional
Development oversees externships, volunteer opportunities and job placement.
That means all real-world opportunities
are under one umbrella.
"I think the students are very much
The NaTioNal JurisT
Chapman Fowler School of Law
Chicago-Kent College of Law
CUNY School of Law
Howard University School of Law
IU Bloomington (Maurer)
Lewis & Clark Law School
Loyola University Chicago
Southern Illinois University
Southwestern Law School
SUNY Buffalo Law School
Touro Law Center
UMKC School of Law
University of Illinois
University of Miami
University of Minnesota
University of Montana
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
University of Oregon
University of Tennessee
University of the District of Columbia
Whittier Law School
b e n e f i t i n g f ro m a c o m p re h e n s i ve
approach," said Dean Jennifer Bard, adding that the school's academic advising
department is also becoming more careerfocused. "It's linking the course work, the
academic work, with the practical training."
The school is also trying to reinforce
in students the value of practical training
opportunities. This year's entering class
was the first to be required to meet with
the career services office annually, said
Mina Jones Jefferson, associate dean and
director of the Center for Professional
"I think that is just further evidence
of how the faculty understands that what
they're being taught in classrooms needs
to play out in the marketplace, and we're
very integrated on that front," Jefferson