Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Washington U. School of Law implements in-house apprenticeship program

To help students who weren't able to find summer employment, the Washington University School of Law (St. Louis) implemented a program this past summer called "Associates in Training."  We've reported on the mini-trend among legal employers to start "apprenticeship" programs in which new grads trade salary and workload in exchange for the chance to train at the heels of experienced lawyers.  Now a law school has jumped into the act by turning the idea into a six credit course.  Click here and scroll down for the official course description.

As the National Law Journal explains:

The school has started a summer program called Associate in Training. The six-week program is loosely modeled on law firm summer associateships, and includes attorney shadowing, networking, instruction on the business of law firms and other skills training. It appears to be the first program of its kind, said Tomea Mayer Mersmann, associate dean for strategic initiatives.

"Obviously, we'd rather have our students getting trained at law firms and being paid. Unfortunately, the current employment market has made it much harder to secure a summer associate position," said Mersmann. She noted that "significantly fewer" Washington University law students nabbed summer positions this year. "For students who weren't able to go to firms this summer, this program is the best substitution to learn those skills."

Some area law firms have more than halved the number of summer associates they hosted in previous years, Mersmann said. Some didn't invite back students who had clerked with them last year.

The wider push among legal educators to incorporate real-world skills also played a part, Mersmann said.

The pilot program is underway now with 11 students, a mix of 2Ls who did not get summer clerkships and 1Ls who want to make themselves more attractive during the fall recruiting season, she said. A handful of international LL.M. candidates are enrolled. Students earn six credits for the program, which costs $8,520, although tuition remission is available, Mersmann said.

The program involves courses in litigation skills, accounting and business for lawyers, research and writing, and client development. Students are assigned mentors who are practicing attorneys. They are visting law firm visits and doing mock interviews.

If any WashU students reading this blog (don't they all?) would like to comment on the program, the rest of our readers would love the feedback.

The school says it has plans to offer the program again in 2011.

Read the full coverage here.



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