Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Late-Comer's First Post, with a Question for the Group

Hello everyone,

I'm Tom Mighell, one of the bloggers here at the Legal Skills Prof blog.  Sorry I'm so late to the party - it looks like a lot of great content has been posted!  I want my first post to start a discussion amongst my blogging colleagues as well as our readers, but before that I'd like to introduce myself.

As you can see from the sidebar to the left, I'm not a law professor - I'm a consultant with Contoural, a company that provides records management and electronic discovery services to companies.  But that's not why I'm here - I am also passionately interested in the area of law practice management.  I've been a member of the ABA's Law Practice Management Section since 2003, and I'm pleased to be serving as the Chair of the Section in 2011-2012.  For the past seven years I've worked to help lawyers of all types learn more about the business of the practice of law - I'll be talking more about that in an upcoming post.  More specifically, I'm a technology nut, and helping lawyers learn how technology can help them run more efficient and profitable practices is one of my great pleasures.

Now that you know something more about me, I'd like to open my first post here with a question to the group, and to any readers out there.  Here at the Legal Skills Prof Blog, what exactly do we mean by "legal skills?"  I would certainly expect that legal writing, research and advocacy are considered legal skills.   As I'll be arguing here frequently, I truly believe that the area of practice management is also a "legal skill" - knowing how to market your practice, use technology, the ins and outs of finance, and general management skills can make the difference between a successful practice and a flop.

Many of the posts published so far deal with certain types of legal skills, but some do not.  So I'm thinking that the answer to my question is not as simple as I once thought.  What say my co-authors to the question, "what do you consider fair game when we talk about legal skills?"  Even more important, what do you, the reader, want to see us talk about here on the blog?  I'll be posting my thoughts here in future posts, but I thought I'd see if I could kick off my first post with a discussion.  Let the conversation begin.....


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Hi Tom -

I guess I'll be the first to take a stab at your question. I agree 100% that law practice management is a key skill that employers say they want new grads to possess yet schools don't teach it outside of the occasional "small office management" elective. In this market, a law school could likely create a successful niche for itself by including more business-oriented classes in the curriculum.

Also, I think law schools should be doing a lot more to teach students about the technology they will be expected to use in practice - whether it's discovery management software or how to create effective PowerPoint presentations for clients. Law faculties are experts in the teaching and study of legal theory but when it comes to the "business" side of practice, I'm afraid most of us are outside our element. The disconnect between law school and practice is a problem that can't be entirely resolved by merely adding more "traditional" skills courses to the curriculum like legal research and writing.

Please continue to blog about the business and technology skills new lawyers need to survive these days. We can all learn something from your posts.

Posted by: Jim | Nov 17, 2010 9:37:01 PM

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