Aurora Donnelly is a solo practitioner always looking forward to the next exciting transition.
This past week I received e-mails from various sources that described changes in the legal profession and changes in the way lawyers are educated and trained. About the first, it remains to be seen whether the changes will be positive. As for the second, hallelujah.
Those who converse with me on a regular basis know how strongly I think the legal education system needs an overhaul. And we all know that I not alone in thinking this, that it has become a torrent of opinion, criticism and progressive new ideas. The poor economy and job market probably have something to do with the calls for change, but the outcry is also probably due to the globalization.
One e-mail came from The Posse List and it was a review of a conference titled “Future Ed: New Business Models for U.S. and Global Legal Education,” covered by an article from Law 360. The conference was sponsored by Harvard Law School and New York Law School. The substance of the conference is how to control the cost of law school in view of the changed job market. But the item that spoke to me the loudest was the impetus to give law students more practical training during law school. The connection is that the students will be more valuable when they start practicing than if they only experienced the theory of law.
Many of us have discussed with great regret how, when we started working as lawyers, we didn’t even know how to draft an order, or necessarily how the court system works. Some schools are going to be requiring students to undergo experiential learning. At Washington and Lee University School of Law, for example, the third-year students will be going through simulated client experiences. What a wondrous thing!
Part and parcel of this process is the globalization of law school learning, an inevitable result of what is going on in the world. Even if you grew up and live and now work in a small town you will probably at some point encounter the need to counsel clients on some international issue. It might be the immigration of a relative or something to do with an export or import business, or a myriad other issues. Being prepared for that will make for better lawyering.