Perfect law school

September 30, 2009
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We recently posed the question “What’s the best way for people to become attorneys?” Your choices were: at law school as it is now, through apprenticeships like back in the day, and a hybrid of law school with real-life experience. Not surprisingly, nearly 80 percent picked the hybrid option. Only 8 percent thought it’d be best to go back to the time when you worked with an attorney to gain the skills instead of attending school.

During the past few decades, college has been pushed and promoted as the best option to get ahead in life. Many jobs now require a college education or higher learning beyond high school. So off to college we went, but while we learned more information, and hopefully became smarter, we still weren’t quite prepared for working in the real world. We didn’t learn how to apply what we learned to our job.

This happens to a lot of college majors – you’re taught the fundamentals of your field, what it means to be a lawyer, journalist, business owner – but unless you manage to score internships or work experience in your field, that’s all you learn in college.

That’s a complaint many partners and bosses have: they get these students fresh out of school, eager to learn, but unable to actually do their job. If they’re lucky, the new graduates will get a mentor at work or a very patient partner to help walk them through the job until they learn the ropes.

A hybrid system of learning in law school would help solve this problem. You’d get the best of both worlds – learn the fundamentals, but also how to apply them. Working as a summer associate helps, but not everyone scores those positions. Even if they do, more practical experience can’t hurt, right?

How would you like to see law schools prepare students for life as an attorney? What are they getting right and what should they improve upon?
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