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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

    2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

    3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

    4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

    5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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