In a recent paper, LexisNexis examined a study of legal employers’ perceptions of recent law school graduates. In a survey of 300 hiring partners and senior associates, 95% believed that law students lack key practical skills at the time of hiring. Across both litigation and transactional practices, attorneys noted a lack of understanding of what happens in the practice of law.
Congratulations to Professor JoNel Newman, University of Miami School of Law, on her selection for the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education’s M. Shanara Gilbert Award, honoring an “emerging clinician.” Professor Newman is an ETL fellow and we featured her Health Rights Clinic Medical Legal Partnership course as a model for innovative teaching to prepare students for the practice of law.
Three years ago, we launched Law Jobs: By the Numbers, an interactive online tool that gives prospective law students the most transparent and complete law school employment rate information available. With the release of the latest ABA employment data, we now have four years of data showing how employment rates have improved (or not) over the years—across the board or by school, by state, or by region. So, which law schools have seen the most significant gains since 2011?
A year ago, we launched Foundations for Practice and kicked off a study to achieve the project’s first objective: to identify the foundations (such as skills, competencies, and characteristics) entry-level lawyers need to practice law. In late 2014, we began distributing a survey to lawyers across the country to do just that. Working with state bar associations, our survey was distributed in 37 states, reached more than 700,000 lawyers, and gave us more than 24,000 valid responses.
The 2015 Annual Meeting of The Association of American Law School (AALS), entitled Legal Education at the Crossroads, provided much discussion around the critical choices facing law schools. Alli Gerkman, Director of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, was on hand and served as a panelist regarding The Future of Educating Effective Lawyers. Members of the ETL Consortium were also a part of the meeting, and served as panelists on a variety of issues.
In a recent paper, Professors Chew and Pryal, University of North Carolina School of Law, identified areas where legal employers’ expectations concerning law students and recent graduates diverge. Results showed that expectations ranged when comparing skills necessary for recent graduates, students with two years of law school experience, and students with one year of law school experience.
Many law schools are answering the call for “practice-ready” graduates by implementing and growing clinical programs, externships, and simulation courses. The National Jurist recently announced its 2015 Best Schools for Practical Training, and Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Consortium members were prominent on the list again this year.
The prestige of your law school is not all that counts when it comes to making partner at a big law firm. In a recent study of 33,000 lawyers at the largest 115 law firms in the country, it was shown that a large number of partners came from “less prestigious” law schools. Looking at cities with large legal markets, law firm partners tended to come not only from top schools but also schools in close proximity to the area.
Mark your calendars! The 4th Annual Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference will take place October 1-3, 2015, in Denver, Colorado, and will center on our Foundations for Practice project. We will debut the results of our national study to participants and look to them to help us shape the lessons, recommendations, and next steps that will turn the results into action.
Jeffrey Thaler, Visiting Professor and University Counsel at the University of Maine, recently published a paper on Meeting Law Students’ Experiential Needs in the Classroom: Building an Administrative Law Practicum Implementing the Revised ABA Standards. Thaler hopes others can use this approach to help students be ready to practice beyond the world of judges and juries.
Whether law students are practice-ready after graduation depends greatly upon whom you ask. In BARBRI’s first “State of the Legal Field Survey,” 70% of third-year law students thought they possessed “sufficient practice skills” and 76% believed they were ready to practice law “right now.” However, practitioners thought quite differently on the matter. Alli Gerkman weighs in on the discrepancies.
In December, we began contacting state bar leaders across the country, asking them to send a survey to every lawyer in their state in an effort to get to the bottom of a seemingly simple inquiry: what are the foundations that entry-level lawyers need to practice law? With at least 31 states on board with the survey, we’re getting data that identifies the foundations—skills, competencies, characteristics, traits—the profession thinks are needed. This is big—and not just for law schools.
New York has set its sights on access to justice and alleviating some of the issues that low-income litigants face needing help from justice system. In his annual State of the Judiciary address on February 17, New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman put forth a number of innovative methods for making the state’s judiciary more equitable and accessible.
If you’re like most prospective students, there’s a good chance the U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings will play some kind of role in your decision about where to go to law school. We can all debate the merits of the rankings as a method for choosing a law school, but we can’t stop the world from clamoring for them. So until they’re announced, here are some things to keep you occupied.
Last year, the ABA’s Student Lawyer featured Alli Gerkman and her advice for current law students. Gerkman discussed the value of building a personal network and the importance of making and fostering professional connections right from the get-go. “Your success and your ability to make an impact are limited only by the breadth and quality of your personal connections,” she said.
Law Week Colorado recently published an article highlighting Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers‘ report, Ahead of the Curve: Turning Law Students into Lawyers, which examines the Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. The collaboration exemplified by the program will pave the way for more successful innovations in legal education, according to Alli Gerkman.
Are law school graduates ready to enter the profession, engage in the practice, and serve clients? Many law schools have developed more robust experiential training in recent years. One such program is educating law students who are outperforming their colleagues in the field who have been licensed to practice law for up to two years, according to a study conducted by Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers.
Those of you who attended our conference last fall probably had a chance to talk with Elise Miller, Vice President of Research Programs at Access Group, who has been developing their new grant-making program that will support projects and research that aim to address the challenges facing legal education today. The deadline is January 31 for schools interested in applying for a grant through the unsolicited grants program.
ETL is about to release its first major report—a study of the Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program. The report is not even public yet, but it was already highlighted in the Wall Street Journal and criticized at Above the Law. Ultimately, if law schools are going to develop programs that better prepare students and if prospective students are going to rely on those programs, then legal employers must value them. And, we’re working on ways to help ensure that happens.
We would like to extend our congratulations to Jon Streeter for his confirmation to California’s First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco. He was sworn in on January 5. Jon has been a friend to IAALS for several years, working closely with Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers. We are thrilled for him—and we look forward to seeing how his new perspective in the judicial branch informs his insights and leadership in legal education, and the evolution of the profession more broadly.
It’s been almost three-and-a-half years since we launched Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers. In that time, we have played a critical role in bringing the profession and the academy together to work toward collaborative solutions that will raise not only the institution of legal education, but also the legal profession. We are beginning 2015 with the launch of a new logo that captures this convergence and the many people who will play a role in this process.
Like the United States, the United Kingdom has historically faced a lack of legal representation for low income individuals. The apparent lack of resources in both countries has highlighted a perceived remedy: law students working with those in need of legal services. While many people view this solution as beneficial for society, law schools, and students, others have warned against law schools taking up the slack because students still need an opportunity to learn.
Professor Neil W. Hamilton of the University of St. Thomas School of Law recently published an article that analyzes empirical research on the competencies that legal employers and clients are looking for in new lawyers. For the article, Professor Hamilton surveyed four types of employers: larger law firms, small firms, county attorneys, and legal aid offices. He found all four groups highly valued certain competencies, dubbing them “professional formation competencies.”
This Thursday and Friday, November 6-7, 2014, the Law School Survey of Student Engagement’s (LSSSE) “Data and Assessment in Legal Education: The Necessities, The Possibilities” symposium will be held at Saint Louis University School of Law. Alli Gerkman, Director of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, will be presenting on a panel about “Using Data to Demonstrate and Improve the Value of Legal Education.”