Thursday, March 7, 2013

Some law schools try med school residency model to better prepare grads for practice

From the New York Times:

To Place Graduates, Law Schools Are Opening Firms

When Douglas J. Sylvester, dean of the law school at Arizona State University, was visiting the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota a couple of years ago he mentioned the shifting job market for his students — far fewer offers and a new demand for graduates already able to draft documents and interact with clients.

The Mayo dean responded that his medical students and graduates gained clinical experience in hospital rounds closely supervised by attending physicians.

“I realized that was what we needed,” Mr. Sylvester recalled. “A teaching hospital for law school graduates.”

The result is a nonprofit law firm that Arizona State is setting up this summer for some of its graduates. Over the next few years, 30 graduates will work under seasoned lawyers and be paid for a wide range of services provided at relatively low cost to the people of Phoenix.

. . . .

Arizona’s plan, mooted at bar meetings and within law school circles, is producing envy — but also skepticism. Some see a naked attempt to improve the school’s ratings in U.S. News and World Report by increasing the percentage of its graduates who find work while doing little to address the access-to-justice problem.

Critics say that $125 an hour is too high to serve those in need and too low to break even. Others say that Phoenix, a city of intense growth and few law students, could support such an operation but that others could not and that local law firms would resent the competition.

. . . .

There are other obstacles. Teaching hospitals have a federal tax dispensation. For nonprofit law firms to qualify for an exemption, legislation is probably required. That seems unlikely at the moment. Arizona State is attaching its firm to its nonprofit alumni association to get around the problem for now.

Continue reading here.

(jbl).

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills/2013/03/some-law-schools-try-med-school-residency-model-to-better-prepare-grads-for-practice.html

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