preLaw - Spring 2017 - 32
What is practice ready?
What is practice readiness? And who is
responsible for cultivating it?
These are among the big questions law
schools -and employers - have been trying to answer during the past few years as
a result of the rupture in the legal job market. They want to know who is responsible
for making sure graduates are ready to go
into the workplace and represent clients.
Is it the role of the law school? Or are
schools supposed to provide a three-year
introduction to the law? This dichotomy
has sometimes placed clinical and doctrinal
faculty at odds about their mission.
And what does it mean to be "practice
Much attention has been paid to
the trend of declining bar passage rates.
However, the bar exam tests knowledge,
not necessarily practice skills. But some
argue that if law students don't have a core
understanding of the law - and bar results
seem to show that's increasingly the case
Call (631) 761-7000 or visit www.tourolaw.edu.
- how can they possible be good lawyers?
Indeed, they could receive all the practical
training in the world and still flounder.
"In focusing on the bar exam, it's
important not to lose sight of legal education's primary duty of ensuring that law
school prepares students for entry into the
legal profession and a successful career,"
Robert Kuehn of Washington University
School of Law wrote in a blog post. "If
studies of practicing lawyers and recent law
graduates matter, it is clear that law schools
are failing, even worse than in preparation
for bar admission, to adequately prepare
their students for legal practice."
There are also questions as to whom
should be getting lawyers ready to practice
law. Many countries require law school
graduates to complete yearlong apprenticeships before they are officially licensed.
In a 2015 study by LexisNexis, 95 percent of hiring partners and senior associates
who supervise new attorneys said recent
graduates lack key practical skills at 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