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September 10, 2009

"The recession makes externships a sweeter deal for students"

The title of this post is the headline of this interesting recent article from the National Law Journal. Here is how it starts:

Without summer associate programs to rely on, law students are turning to alternate ways of gaining practical experience and making connections that could lead to full-time employment.

Many students are doing externships to fill that need. They work, unpaid, for credit under the supervision of faculty and an on-site attorney at a government agency, nonprofit organization or sometimes a corporation. (By contrast, internships can be for credit or for pay.) American Bar Association rules prohibit law firm externships.

Once thought valuable but not essential, externships are gaining a new stature as students do everything they can to land a job. Demand for, and participation in, externships have increased significantly, according to law school administrators.

As the economy batters law students' hopes for employment and law firms cut back or eliminate summer-associate programs, law schools are answering the criticism that they have done a poor job preparing law students for real legal work. Schools are revamping their programs, enlarging their focus to include many more opportunities for practical training. Externships are part of that picture.

September 10, 2009 in Teaching -- curriculum | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 9, 2009

"Reality's knocking: The recession is forcing schools to bow to reality"

The title of this post is the headline of this effective new National Law Journal article which highlights the various ways in which lean economic times are impacting law schools.  Here is a snippet that spotlights necessity being the nuturing mother of innovation:

The movement to incorporate practical skills into legal education isn't new, but legal educators and researchers report that the floundering economy is increasing incentives for law schools to revamp their curricula to prepare students for the realities of the legal profession. "A lot of the changes are in response to the marketplace," said David Van Zandt, dean of Northwestern University School of Law. "Students are concerned about getting jobs, and everybody wants to be relevant."

Graduates face stiff competition for law firm positions, and clients are balking at footing the bill to train new attorneys. Consequently, law school leaders consider it more important than ever to send students into the profession armed with practical skills, not just extensive knowledge of case law and legal theory.  More law schools are modifying coursework and adding practical classes to help students develop the skills past graduates have had the luxury of learning on the job. In that vein, a growing number of law schools are emphasizing teamwork, leadership, professional judgment and the ability to view issues from the clients' perspective.

"I think we are at a moment of historical change across the landscape of legal education," said Washington and Lee Dean Rodney A. Smolla. "When we look back at this period in five to 10 years, we will mark it as the time when the whole mission of law schools made a fundamental turn."

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Posted by DAB

September 9, 2009 in Legal profession realities and developments | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack