Friday, November 23, 2012
" Expanding the Lawyers' Toolkit of Skills and Competencies: Synthesizing Leadership, Professionalism, Emotional Intelligence, Conflict Resolution, and Comprehensive Law."
This is a new "legal skills" related article by Professor Susan Daicoff (Florida Coastal) and available at 52 Santa Clara L. Rev. 795 (2012). From the introduction:
The legal profession is in the midst of rapid and dramatic change, fueled by longstanding dissatisfaction within and without the profession, and inflamed by the economic recession beginning around 2007. Changes in the profession are propelling or reflecting concomitant changes in legal education. Lawyers may no longer be able to rely simply on excellent legal analysis and advocacy, written and oral communication skills, trial skills and traditional pre-litigation negotiation and settlement skills. Clients want more legal work for less cost. Law school applications have declined and unemployment among lawyers is a concern. In efforts to cut costs, clients are hiring auditors to oversee and audit their counsel's legal bills, and using in-house counsel, paralegals, or even nonlawyers to do their legal work. Court dockets are clogged to the point of inaccessibility and yet many parties still lack access to lawyers. The legal profession is rife with commentary exploring how to be more marketable in the law profession of the future given the rapid changes fostered by technological advances, disruptive concepts and strategies, the need for sustainability, and outsourcing. Law schools are under fire for providing students with unsatisfactory returns on investment, when students compare their employment prospects with the cost of legal education. A reevaluation of the competencies needed to be a twenty-first century lawyer thus seems appropriate. Some assert that it is time to decisively redefine both the role of the lawyer and the content of legal education.
Law firms are experimenting with different interviewing methods and processes, including performance-based tasks and simulations. Law schools are placing a greater emphasis on bar passage results and teaching lawyering skills, rather than limiting classes to the acquisition of doctrinal knowledge and traditional lawyering skills. Some are expanding the set of skills being included in legal education, while others may even be experimenting with admissions criteria that include assessing applicants' proficiency in various competencies, in order to produce more effective graduates.
In evaluating legal education reform, law schools have turned to empirical studies to define the skills needed to be an effective lawyer. These studies highlight the importance of skills sometimes overlooked in legal education. This Article will first synthesize a number of empirical studies identifying the skills and competencies important for effective lawyering. It will briefly evaluate their inclusion in current legal education. The Article will also explore twelve disciplines that provide training for law students in these skills and competencies and advocate the synthesis of these twelve fields, in an effort to prepare lawyers more effectively for the legal profession of the future.