Report offers insight on law students' thoughts on school

January 6, 2011
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An annual report released Wednesday by Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research on law school student engagement shows many students don’t feel prepared to practice law.

The Law School Survey of Student Engagement asks students at participating law schools about their experiences. Only two Indiana law schools have participated in the survey: Indiana University Maurer School of Law and Valparaiso University School of Law. Since 2004, 164 different law schools have participated. This year, nearly 77,000 law students from 77 law schools responded.

The data is helpful to law schools to figure out what they are doing right and what they need to improve as far as preparing students to become attorneys. It’s pretty interesting to see what future attorneys have to say about their education. The report breaks down what is going well (i.e., only 7 percent of 1L students reported coming to class unprepared), what could use attention (female students were less likely than male students to ask questions in class frequently), and what warrants further investigation (more than half of 3Ls who used career-counseling services at their law schools were unsatisfied with job search help).
 
The report notes that law schools are excellent in preparing law students academically, but aren’t as effective in transforming law students into lawyers. Only about half of 1L, 2L, and 3L students said they felt prepared to understand the needs of clients. Less than 60 percent reported they felt prepared to work with colleagues as part of a legal team, deal with the stresses of practicing law, or deal with ethical dilemmas.

Something else that stuck out to me: Younger students reported they were more likely than their older classmates to go to law school because they weren’t sure what their next step in life should be. These students who were unsure of what to do with their life also reported studying much less than other students.

The older students were more likely to say they went to law school to contribute to the public good. Younger students also were more likely to say they entered law school to work toward financial security, live up to career expectations others set for them, or to achieve prestige in their professional lives.

There is a lot of interesting data in the report, which is available on the LSSSE’s website.

What do you think about the results? Have things changed since you went to law school?

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  • Not Surprising
    I am not surprised at all about the above findings. My experiance with law clerks is they tend to be immature, have no basic business knowledge, and have unreal expectations about what being a practicing attorney entails. They are all very smart though. Many law students are befuddled that there are far more law students than lawyer positions. My suggestions has always been the IBA or the ABA needs to limit (or assign) the number of seats a law school may have for incoming students. The AMA does this and exiting med students have no problem finding employment. Also, three years after law school should be an a "residency." After your residency (compensated), the young attorney should have to have five attorneys sign off they are competant (morally, ethically, subject matter so on). I laugh ever time I hear a law student say "I don't want to practice, I just want the background of law school for my career." I think to myself thats a waste of energy and time. A business who needs an attorney...well, hires an attorney. I have never heard a business person say "I need an inexperianced, non-practicing attorney for a non-legal related job." Ok, this was just a rant. Excuse they typos. Have a nice weekend all.
    • Mr. Boots Is Right
      I concur with Mr. Boots. The number of law school slots need to be limited like in medical school. There is so much unemployment and depressed salaries in the law now...it's all due to a saturation of attorneys, far more people are lawyers than there is work to do.

      The law school model needs to be blown up. It's crazy that people spend three years in law school and aren't taught squat about actually practicing law while there. Can you imagine medical schools taking an academic approach to their profession instead of a practical one?

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    1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

    2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

    3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

    4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

    5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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