Paul L. Caron

Saturday, October 17, 2015

How Well Do Law Schools Teach Business And Financial Concepts?

Carole Silver (Northwestern) & Louis Rocconi (Indiana), Learning from and About the Numbers, 5 J. of Law (4 J. Legal Metrics) 53 (2015):

In this article, we enter the debate about the value of legal education, taking aim at the issue of the ways in which law schools prepare students for practice. But rather than focusing on skills training, our concern is with the approach of law schools to preparing students to understanding the context of the legal issues they will encounter, and specifically on their preparation for working with numbers, whether with regard to business, finance or information presented in statistical form generally.

Our contribution to this debate is to emphasize the importance of data in analyzing the value of law school, and we do that here with data on what law students think they are learning in law school with regard to business and financial concepts and quantitative information. In addition to explaining the experiences and perceptions of a sample of more than 8,000 law students, the importance of these data relates to the larger framework for explaining the value of legal education to prospective students and to the hiring market of law graduates.

Figure 7

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At my top-ten law school the answer was not at all. In my first year at a big-law firm I soaked up about 1/2 an M.B.A. from clients and CLE.

Posted by: 30-year Prof | Oct 18, 2015 3:23:59 PM

Probably anyone interested in transactional practice will take an income tax class and that's where Law Schools should offer a rudimentary explanation of balance sheets, P&L and capital structure. Corporate & Partnership tax (and international) should include a several days on M&A structures (not just the rules, but the business considerations). I've often day dreamed about the things I would've told my law school self to accelerate the learning curve, and it boils down to those things and some tips on client communications.

Posted by: Yo Gabba Gabba | Oct 19, 2015 11:03:12 AM


My tax course(s) spent about ten minutes on balance sheets and covered none of the other aspects you mentioned - not in case law, not in discussion of applicable rules/regs, and certainly not the business considerations.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Oct 19, 2015 7:38:13 PM

In my 37 years of experience as a CPA, I have noted most lawyers are obviously English, not math, majors. As a profession, you guys and gals sure can talk. But watching you trying to figure a percentage of a percentage is a hoot.

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Oct 20, 2015 4:46:14 AM