Sunday, September 1, 2013

"The Practice-Ready Law Graduate is a Fantasy"

This from the Wall Street Journal Law Blog concerning a recent article by Professor Robert Condlin (Maryland) that's been posted on SSRN.  My blogging mate Scott Fruehwald will have a couple of posts shortly in response to Professor Condlin's article but for now here's an excerpt from the WSJ story (subscription may be required).

The Practice-Ready Law Graduate is a ‘Fantasy,’ Says Professor

. . . .

In a new paper, University of Maryland law professor Robert Condlin takes aim at the “practice ready” concept, arguing that it’s a nostrum that won’t cure the ills of legal education.

Mr. Condlin’s basic point is that the market forces roiling BigLaw are beyond the control of law schools and that the second-guessing about what they ought to be teaching is a “non sequitur.” He writes:

Law schools cannot revive the labor market, or improve the employment prospects of their graduates, by providing a different type of education. Placing students in jobs is principally a function of a school’s academic reputation, not its curriculum, and the legal labor market will rebound only after the market as a whole has rebounded (and perhaps not then).

But Mr. Condlin doesn’t stop there. He calls the concept of a practice-ready graduate a “millennialist fantasy.”

For one, he says, the range of skills needed to prepare law students for the private market is too large. BigLaw, smaller firms, and government work all require different skills. But law schools “cannot target sub-categories of the settings because students will not know what types of practice they will enter when they graduate,” he writes.

Mr. Condlin also says it’s not even clear what it means to be practice ready, asking. “Must they function at the level of the ‘reasonably competent practitioner,’ or is it enough that they remain above the level of the lowest common denominator?… Are they ‘practice ready,’ for example, if they can draft a coherent and logically organized legal document, irrespective of the quality of its analysis.”

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Continue reading here.


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