Law school education – Is balance the issue?

The Association of American Law Schools has approved the creation of a new  Section, Balance in Legal Education, designed to improve legal education and create a better  balance between law school education and law practice.

I’m not sure what a “balance” is in legal education. But, it is clear that legal education today suffers from a malady that most educators refuse to address. That malady is the failure to teach law practice management. A major defect in the education of most law students is the failure to learn about economic realities of law practice.

The single most frequent complaint of clients before State Bar disciplinary boards can be attributed to the lack of management knowledge by lawyers.

Some educators respond by saying that law school is not a trade school, that law is a profession and not a business, and that law firms teach the economics and management skills required.

First, law is both a profession AND a service-business; second, law firms generally don’t teach these skills because of the pressures of billable hours; and third, most graduates work either in small firms or start their own practices without these necessary skills — and that leads to Trouble, with a capital “T.”

Education in law school, where it counts, could prevent much of the trouble and many thousands, even millions, of dollars of State Bar disciplinary proceedings, not to mention greater service and satisfaction for clients.

Hopefully, the new Section of this organization will have the necessary skill and influence to change this aspect of legal education.


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