TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Future For Law Students, Law Schools, And The Legal Profession

FoundationsAlli Gerkman (Director, Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers), Foundations for Practice: The Future for Law Students, Law Schools, and the Profession:

According to BARBRI’s 2015 State of the Legal Field Survey, just 23% of practitioners believe new lawyers have sufficient skills to practice. Across the country, legal employers’ and bar organizations’ concerns about the readiness of new lawyers have crescendoed. But while the problem—that new lawyers are lacking in preparation—seemed clear, it has been less clear just what that meant. What are new lawyers lacking?

Our Foundations for Practice survey set out to define that. After working with state bar organizations to distribute the survey across the country, we are sitting on more than 24,000 responses from lawyers in all 50 states. Today, we are releasing two exciting outcomes from the survey:

  1. Our first two reports in a series of reports that will result from the data! First, Survey Overview and Methodological Approach describes the Foundations for Practice survey and methodology used for the foundations and describes the demographics and practice-specific characteristics of the respondents. Second, The Whole Lawyer and the Character Quotient, our lead report, shows that new lawyers are successful when they have a much broader blend of legal skills, professional competencies, and, most importantly, characteristics that comprise the “whole lawyer.”
  2. A data visualization tool that allows you to explore the results on your own terms.

These results are just the beginning. We will publish more reports, and, importantly, we now get to move on to what’s next: helping law schools and the legal profession do something with them. More on that soon.

In the meantime, these results give everyone a starting point to improve the way we train and educate lawyers. Law schools can use them to think about learning outcomes for students, legal employers can use them to reconsider their hiring practices to ensure they’re hiring graduates who embody the foundations they are seeking, and law students and graduates can use them to drive their own professional development.

Keith Lee, What Skills Do New Lawyers Need? 24,000 Lawyers Answer:

If you want to get up to speed quickly, you can read the initial report, The Whole Lawyer and The Character Quotient (PDF). IAALS breaks down the major foundational skills, as identified by employers, necessary for success.

Are employers looking for ediscovery skills? Online presence? Work-life balance? Dedication to social justice?

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Nope. By and large, legal employers continue to desire people of high moral character, honesty, and trustworthiness above almost any other skill, characteristic, or competency. ...

Honesty was essential to being a good lawyer 150 years ago. It’s essential to being a good lawyer today. It will be essential to be a good lawyer 150 years from now. It doesn’t go out of style.

National Law Journal, ‘Character’ Is Essential for New Attorneys, Legal Skills Not so Much, Survey Finds

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