♫ I’m scared to touch
Too tense to be undone
I walk the streets
Not expecting morning sun
Against the voice of doom
Failures fall all over town
I guess I should
I feel I should
Get real Get real…♫
Irene Plagianos, for The American Lawyer and posted on Law.com today, wrote an article entitled: The Future of Legal Education: Get Real.
She reported on how Dean Richard Matasar of the New York Law School (partnered with Harvard Law School) introduced a different discussion topic to a crowded classroom composed of 75 law school deans, legal educators and lawyers: the need to change U.S. legal education — and to do it now. This was part of a two-day conference entitled: “Future Ed: New Business Models for U.S. and Global Legal Education”
Seems there is a growing sense that all is perhaps not right with the current state of legal education:
New York Law professor and program organizer Elizabeth Chambliss says several factors helped spark the initiative: deep cuts in associate hiring, recession-driven changes to the broader legal market and the Carnegie Foundation’s highly critical 2007 report on how law schools are failing to teach students practical skills. A total of more than 20 speakers at Friday’s panels offered what were often harsh assessments on the ways in which law schools are falling short — and what they could do to turn out better, more prepared students.
Some of the reported comments are quite critical of law schools:
Chester Paul Beach, associate general counsel of United Technologies Corp., hammered home the need for more real-world training. To cut down on legal costs, Beach said, his company absolutely will not pay for first- or second-year associates because “they’re worthless.” Lawyers need more “skill development” in school because, especially amid the current economic downturn, businesses are “not going to pay for people who can’t add value.”
There is recognition of the sense of what is wrong:
The divide between legal education and legal practice emerged as the central problem that needs to be tackled. As Vielka Holness, director of the Pre-Law Institute at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice said, the problem is that “we’re teaching all our students as if they want to be professors” — not the route the vast majority of those students wind up pursuing.
Where could law schools improve?
Perhaps to inject a greater sense of urgency, Beach added, “We’re actively trying to destroy the current model.” Among other failings, he said, law school doesn’t teach lawyers such practical business management skills as financial literacy and effective executive communication.
Financial literacy? Effective communication? Lawyers in the trenches, in candid conversations, have bemoaned the lack of practical training in law schools for some time. For too long, law schools have been afraid to touch these issues – afraid that the way that they do things may need to be undone. In walking the streets today I was not expecting the morning sun against the voice of doom. Personally, I am overjoyed that law schools, finally, feel the need to get real…