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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Henderson: Why the Legal Job Market Is Changing

Henderson William D. Henderson (Indiana-Bloomington), Why the Job Market Is Changing, National Law Journal (Nov. 2010):
  1. The traditional law firm hiring model (pedigree and grades) doesn't do a very good job of selecting candidates who are likely to succeed as large firm litigators or corporate lawyers.
  2. The traditional credential-based model is gradually being dismantled because clients are no longer willing to absorb the cost of bad hiring decisions.
  3. The skills and behaviors you need to set yourself apart are not taught in law school -- indeed, your typical law professor is completely unqualified to serve as your jungle guide. ...

Obviously, beyond intelligence as applied to legal doctrine, many of the attributes needed for success in the "new normal" legal economy are not attributes emphasized in law school. Virtually all law professors were vetted based on a world where academic credentials really mattered. As a group, law professors are ill-equipped for the changes that are occuring.

In reality, national law schools owe their place in the law school hierarchy to the allegiances of legal employers. When employers start looking elsewhere for recruits, a new hierarchy will emerge -- one based on educational quality, as perceived by employers, and connection to the profession. That day is not too far off.

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Comments

"As a group, law professors are ill-equipped for the changes that are occuring." True beyond question. But will anything change in the legal academy? Of course not. The folks in charge of change are the aforementioned law professors.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Nov 10, 2010 1:50:35 PM

P.Novus: "As a group, law professors are ill-equipped for the changes that are occuring." True beyond question. But will anything change in the legal academy? Of course not. The folks in charge of change are the aforementioned law professors.

Um, I don't quite understand why law professors (no, I am not one) are supposed to change anything. Legal education, like any constituency, will respond to incentives. Where is the incentive to change anything when law firms are still using the same hiring practices? Anyone who has been around OCI knows this.

Posted by: Nolo Contendre | Nov 10, 2010 2:54:52 PM

Of course, just ask Henderson . . . a law professor.

Posted by: Pa | Nov 10, 2010 6:59:36 PM

I was curious as to what were "many of the attributes needed for success in the 'new normal' legal economy." This blog post offers no hint. And the link takes us to a slow-loading website that is completely unreadable. I'm still wonderin'. Lawyers are always excellent at diagnosing problems, but clueless on how to implement a cure.

Posted by: Rhodium Heart | Nov 11, 2010 11:33:37 AM

As an 80 year old retired lawyer, I may have a different perspective. The Courts nowadays seem less impressed with good lawyering and more by social imperatives. Ergo, the importance of good legal reasoning is lessened.

Posted by: jimbrock | Nov 11, 2010 12:47:15 PM

I have litigated against Ivy League guys from the white shoe firms. They aren't any better than guys I've been up against from 2nd and 3rd tier schools. Ultimately, how well you play the game has nothing to do with where you went to school or the name on the firm door.

Posted by: Jack | Nov 12, 2010 7:10:54 AM