February 11, 2011
Non-Law Training for Lawyers
The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog reports that Milbank, Tweed is setting up a training program at Harvard to teach its associates about business issues—not just legal issues, but “accounting, economics, finance, and negotiation.” Scott Edelman, Millbank, Tweed’s vice chairman, says, “In the law-firm model today, most associates who join a firm don’t wind up staying to become partners—that goes without saying. We’re investing in them to make them better lawyers while they’re here, but also to prepare them for the outside world.”
I think this is a great idea, but it’s unfortunate that these associates didn’t get this training before they began practicing. Anyone who practices business law ought to have some grounding in all of the areas mentioned above. It always disheartens me to see how many of my Business Associations students, including many who go on to higher-level courses in the field, haven’t had any exposure to accounting at all. (I don’t ask about finance, but I assume the percentage is equally low.) You can be an adequate business lawyer without learning anything other than business law, but you can’t be a great business lawyer knowing the law and nothing else.
That doesn’t necessarily mean law schools should be teaching these things. I teach Accounting for Lawyers and I have taught Law and Economics in the past, but I have always thought that the real solution is not to have more law professors teaching non-law subjects, but to impose some serious prerequisites for admission to law school. And not just the subjects mentioned above, but political theory, inductive and deductive logic, basic philosophy, and a host of other things law students should be bringing to law school.
February 11, 2011 | Permalink
It is really bizarre to deal with "tax layers" and "business lawyers" who have never studied accounting. Boggles the mind.
And then there was the litigator who accused me of lying during an expert depo because "there is no such thing as opportunity cost, you just made that up."
Posted by: save_the_rustbelt | Feb 15, 2011 2:58:57 PM