A View From the Cheap Seats: Where Law Schools Are Failing

I didn’t go to law school, so this is from the perspective of someone whose company works closely with law firms to meet their practice management needs, as well as from an employer perspective. As a member of this industry, I’ve read and heard lots of stories about unemployed or underprepared law school graduates.

Higher education institutions in general, and law schools specifically, are receiving tremendous criticism from recent graduates who are unable to find a job. Not finding a job right out of school might not be that unusual, but exorbitant tuition prices and historic levels of student loan debt make the job searching process a tough pill to swallow.

What is it that law schools aren’t teaching that employers want graduates to have? What do you wish they had taught you in law school?

My guess is that it’s the skills that are required in a 21st century work place. Possessing knowledge is not enough anymore. Knowledge can be outsourced to India or automated by computers. Successful people are those who can synthesize information, and use that to build strategy.

I would also venture guess that the ability to adapt to change is important to employers but not taught in law school. Consumer demand is driving change in the legal industry at all levels. The traditional law firm model is the opposite of what consumers want. Successful law firms will be those that meet this demand, and successful lawyers within those law firms will be those who are comfortable leading this change.

Finally, I think that the ability to relate to clients and hear their stories is an important part of being a lawyer but not necessarily in the curriculum of law school. Understanding a client’s situation, listening to their story, and using these things to better represent them will lead to client satisfaction, and consequently, retention of clients for the firm.

As an employer, what are the top skills you want new employees to have as they enter the work force?As a new graduate, what skills were missing from your college or graduate school curriculum?