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October 17, 2007

Who's teaching the business of law?

I just hired my first attorney for a family matter, and in the process was embarrassed to realize that I was unclear about what a "retainer" really meant. That question was easy enough to figure out, but I began to wonder how law schools are preparing their students to run their own practices in terms of setting up an office, finding clients, and managing their billing and expenses.

Last year, when I was helping a friend spread the word about Community Lawyers, Inc. -- an initiative to get more private, neighborhood-based attorneys to play a more active role in advancing community interests -- we were getting consistent feedback from practitioners that law schools should be doing more to help students and alumni establish themselves as small businessmen. It would seem to be entirely in the law schools' own financial interests to help graduates be as successful as possible.

Are your law schools offering courses or programs on actually running a law practice, as distinct from knowing the substance of the law? Do your clinical projects provide hands-on experience managing the practice, not just working on client issues? Who are the leaders in this area now?

(I should note, by way of illustrating the importance of clinical experience to successful practice, that the attorney I retained came, indirectly, through a referral from his school's clinical program, where he had been a student.)

October 17, 2007 in Teaching -- new courses | Permalink

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Comments

I want to see that business skills are taught at the law school level. Do you know it's not just 'reatiner' you don't know but also 'bates' and a mound of other phrases that are thrown around law departments and firms today.
My dream is to see that legal specific technology courses are taught to law school students with a turn towards practical curriculum and porjects to make the law graduate more satisfied with hanging a shingle out to practice law.

Posted by: Anita Evans | Sep 8, 2011 10:47:34 AM

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