An article and the idea of Law Practice Reform

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I first would like to say, too little, too late for those attorneys who aren’t considered seasoned nor are newbies to the legal field. Many blogs have outlined the mass-marketing, mass-commercialization of modern, U.S. legal education. Some suggest the apprenticeship manner of practice to get the legal industry back to its roots. As noble as it sounds, it’s too late. The legal industry has thousands upon thousands of intelligent attorneys who have most likely missed a great window of opportunity to take advantage of these suggestions. Whether due to economy– thus a poor job market, lack of connections, graduation from a non-top-tier, discrimination and simply put a field that casts its law graduates aside like roadkill. Others have noted that the purpose of these blogs is to prevent wide-eyed, ignorant potential law students from taking the plunge, both economically and mentally to attend law school. I stumbled across this article:

Law.com – Three Law Firms Claim Success With New Apprenticeship Model

By no means is this some new idea, in England, which is what most state common law is modeled after, this was the norm for trades and guilds. At some point somewhere, proponents of free market and capitalism decided to mix these ideas with higher education and voile a disasterous recipe: adults with excessive debt and postponed lives with a rice-paper facade of having attained success. With any sweeping change, casualties abound. Those lawyers who weren’t IVY leagued or graduated at the wrong time will be included among the counted losses.

Apparently, the majority is not embracing this legal industry reform: “Not that there’s any rush to jump on the bandwagon — no other firms have announced similar programs since last summer. Critics worry that lower apprenticeship salaries will hurt a firm’s ability to recruit top prospects and that the programs aren’t worth the necessary partner time and resources. The few firms that have made the transition are either litigation-focused or regional in scope. No large general practice or white-shoe firms have started apprenticeship programs…”

Clients have certain demands that ingrains the lineage of prestige and the have vs. have nots. Major firms whose focus is the financial input, overhead costs and maintaining a certain level of clientele which funds their business/firms aren’t willing to sacrifice these efficacies to help produce quality attorneys. Economically it makes sense for the firms not to invest so much, since we read or have first-hand knowledge of associate burn-out, it is likely those would produce high-turnover, so why would a firm enhance skills of a non-partner, non-promotional/lateral attorney who would likely leave the firm anyway? “Partners at all three firms with apprenticeships conceded that they entail significant costs — and each said they had yet to tally up their actual costs thus far.”  Because of the nobility of the profession…[caught you laughing]

Whether the firm is a top level business or mid-sized, these are the ones that can actually afford to implement such a program, resulting in younger attorneys gaining more practial experience that they may use to advance their individual careers. Then there are the rest, who at the end of the day, regardless of whether these firms decide to follow the apprentice model, you will not hear them tell you “You’re Hired.” For the majority it doesn’t matter.

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2 Comments »

  1. set me up Said:

    How long do you think clients will pay $600 per hour for a partner or 250 for a newbie when they can outsource to India or other commonlaw country? The change is coming for Biglaw and it will not going to be pretty.

  2. Nando Said:

    Apprenticeships should be the way to train lawyers. Law schools should have hands-on clinics, where they are drafting and filing motions, arguing at hearings, etc. – all under the careful eye of a licensed attorney/faculty member. This would also help fresh attorneys to hit the ground running.

    Instead, we have a system, where too many young attorneys delude themselves into thinking that they can hang out their own shingle. This is impractical on so many levels. However, if change comes to American legal education, it will come at a painfully slow rate.


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