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Saturday, April 10, 2010

More on the Future Ed Conference: Graduating 3Ls are 'Worthless'

Following up on yesterday's post, HLS & NYLS Host Conference Today on Future Ed -- New Business Models for U.S. and Global Legal Education: Above the Law reports on some provocative comments at the Apocalypse Now session by:

  • Chester Paul Beach (General Counsel, United Technologies):  "We don’t allow first or second year associates to work on any of our matters without special permission, because they’re worthless."
  • Gillian Hadfield (Professor, USC):  "[G]raduating 3L students are worthless. They’re really, really awful."

See also National Law Journal, Consensus: Law Schools Aren't Changing Fast Enough:

Paul Lippe, chief executive officer of Legal OnRamp, was even harsher in his evaluation of legal education. The biggest problem, he said, is the inability of lawyers to view the world from the perspective of their business clients. While lawyers have been conditioned to expect a world in which their prices continually rise and things are done the way they always have been in the past, clients expect a world in which prices always come down and innovation is paramount.

"Law school is not simply incomplete," Lippe said. "It's directionally wrong in many respects because it's misaligned with where the world really is. In my opinion, most of the things I see that are problematic in the profession right now are rooted in law schools."

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Comments

So what exactly are graduating 3Ls supposed to do about this? Do we really expect all lawyers-to-be to come into the law as experienced businesspeople? Should they have to work for free for the first three or five years of their legal career?

The utter disregard for the welfare of new lawyers that many experienced lawyers display is pretty disheartening. It's a lot like a waiter who wins the lottery and then displays a holier-than-thou attitude towards waiters.

Posted by: GU | Apr 11, 2010 12:17:52 AM

I think law schools have to get away from the idea that their job is to indoctrinate students into the perspective of wealthy clients and high-priced law firms. No one says that medical schools are a "failure" because the graduates aren't all profitable in their first year after graduating. If Prof. Hadfield thinks that she is graduating "worthless" 3L's, maybe she shouldn't be teaching.

Posted by: mike livingston | Apr 11, 2010 4:06:07 AM

Hi Paul--a small but important correction to the quote from me. I didn't say "they're really really awful" but "it's really awful" -- the situation is really awful, namely how poor a job WE are doing at preparing them in the basic things we think we're teaching them to do well such as legal research, legal analysis and argument. To see the clip, go to http://nyls.mediasite.com/mediasite/SilverlightPlayer/Default.aspx?peid=eb06f0fe06d94c4e84e2047b7e1ec4a1; my comments start at 1:22:30.

Posted by: Gillian Hadfield | Apr 11, 2010 3:42:31 PM

While I would not defend the legal academy, I find the criticism of these corporate free marketeers galling. Mr. Lippe says: "While lawyers have been conditioned to expect a world in which their prices continually rise and things are done the way they always have been in the past, clients expect a world in which prices always come down and innovation is paramount." Did Mr. Lippe have a straight face when he said this? Corporate/executive salaries have risen uncontrolled through the stratosphere, even while the performance of U.S. companies was crashing. Is there any doubt why law profs and schools and their graduates seek to follow them, although at a far distance?

Posted by: Publius Novus | Apr 12, 2010 8:06:55 AM