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 like the concept. Seems like a good idea and really inexpensive to manage.

    2. I don't agree that this is an extreme case. There are more of these people than you realize - people that are vindictive and/or with psychological issues have clogged the system with baseless suits that are costly to the defendant and to taxpayers. Restricting repeat offenders from further abusing the system is not akin to restricting their freedon, but to protecting their victims, and the court system, from allowing them unfettered access. From the Supreme Court opinion "he has burdened the opposing party and the courts of this state at every level with massive, confusing, disorganized, defective, repetitive, and often meritless filings."

    3. So, if you cry wolf one too many times courts may "restrict" your ability to pursue legal action? Also, why is document production equated with wealth? Anyone can "produce probably tens of thousands of pages of filings" if they have a public library card. I understand this is an extreme case, but our Supreme Court really got this one wrong.

    4. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

    5. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

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