September 26, 2011
Law Schools "poised to become irrelevant"?
Jordan Furlong concludes his thought-provoking and well-documented post, "The decline and fall of law school," with this statement: "[Law] schools are poised to become something far worse than simply an irritant to the profession. They’re poised to become irrelevant."
There's no doubt that Furlong's post will get the attention of law firm managing partners. It's also a great summary of the view many practicing lawyers have of legal education these days.
The money quote:
Law schools that value their continued involvement in the legal education industry need to understand just how dangerous their position has become. The lawyers and legal regulators to whom I speak sound close to giving up on law schools, writing them off as partners or even stakeholders in the bar admission reform process. These people are the schools’ customers — the annual buyers of their inventory — and they’re despairing of any movement by the schools towards a different approach or even a real conversation with the profession about its needs. There just doesn’t appear to be anyone home.
Furlong's post looks to be a good place to get the conversation started. Highly recommended.
June 27, 2011
Practical Skills at St. Louis University
The St. Louis University School of Law has had a Law Practice Management class in its summer session for several years. Barbara Gilchrist teaches the class.
The syllabus shows the expansive reach of the class - business forms, marketing, client managment, technology, finances and much more. As part fo the class, students go to the highly-regarded Missouri Solo and Small Firm Conference. If that's not enough, the students get to hear a wide range of speakers with expertise in each of the areas of coverage.
I (Dennis Kennedy) have had the pleasure to speak to this class several times in recent years about legal technology and related matters. I take an all Q & A approach and am always intrigued by the great questions I get and what issues the students focus on each year.
I spoke to this year's class last week and had a great discussion with the students. Perhaps not surprisingly, a lot of the questions related to social media. I enjoyed getting some of the most sophisticated questions I've ever gotten about use of social media and the Internet by lawyers. Unlike most groups of lawyers, these students not only knew what cloud computing was, they were asking about its positive aspects while still being cognizant of security and other issues. We spent quite a bit of time talking about ethical and professional responsibility issues relating to technology in general and social media in particular.
As we discussed recent state regulatory and ethical decisions on these subjects, the students voiced their concern that the rules seemed to block (or want to block) uses of social media and the Internet that seem very natural to the current generation of students. At one point, a student suggested that the disciplinary approaches seemed more directed at protecting a cartel than protecting clients.
I took my professional responsibility class in law school in the same semester as my antitrust law class, and I must admit to having similar thoughts over the years.
The conversation gave me, and should give all of us, much to think about as ethical and disciplinary approaches based on a shaky understanding of technology seem to make difficult uses of technology aimed at providing better, faster and cheaper service to clients. I liked the way that the students wanted to learn how to get involved in the rule-making process.
I like the way practice management courses such as this one help students not only learn basic practical skills and get insights about the actual practice of law, but also let them apply their academic skills to practice management areas and come up with fresh ideas and approaches.
April 26, 2011
Talking to Law Students About Legal Technology
I (Dennis Kennedy) got the chance last week to talk to and answer questions from students at the University of Missouri Law School.
I spent about two hours with Randy Diamond's Law Practice Management class and then another hour-and-a-half or so talking to an open session about social media, legal technology, career questions, and whatever other topics students wanted to throw at me.
Lots of great questions, including some questions that got me to think about a few things in new ways. It was especially interesting to find the level of interest in LinkedIn, but the wariness about using it. I think I might have changed a few opinions about that.
Despite the amount of time I spent answering questions, I felt quite energized after the sessions and was happy to get the opportunity. A big thank you to the University of Missouri community.
Given the excellent response I've always gotten when talking about technology, practice management and related issues to students at local law schools, I'm surprised that more law professors and law schools don't consider reserving one class or even a session outside teh normal class schedule to bring in practicing lawyers to talk to students and answer questions about the actual practice of law.
The more we can bring lawyers, professors and students together on a regular basis and encourage interaction and discussion, the better and more dynamic a local legal community we're likely to create. I've long felt we've seen too little of that over the years. We now have opportunities to do more of that. Think about what you might do to make that happen.
April 06, 2011
Career Advice for Law Students and New Lawyers: A Roundtable Discussion
The new issue of the ABA's Law Practice Today webzine has a great roundtable article chockful of great career advice for law students and new lawyers. Wendy Werner put together the article, called "Career Advice for Law Students and New Lawyers: A Roundtable Discussion." Contributor's include Kathleen Brady, Nancy Caver, Grover Cleveland, and Legal Skills Prof Blog's own Dennis Kennedy.
Topics include job search tips, what to do if you initially can't find a job, learning to network, dealing with debt, and considering the option of opening your own firm. It's very high-quality advice, presented in an accessible and conversational style. A must-read.
February 27, 2011
Law Practice Management Presentations to Law Students
Deborah McMurray has a great post on her Law Firm 4.0 blog about her recent presentation to a group on students at SMU Law School. The post is called "Law Practice Management Class - SMU Law School. What's on their minds."
She focused on marketing on the Internet, but centered her talk around two questions and the students's answers to those questions.
She asked them:
- When you think of starting your careers in a year or two, what is the biggest opportunity you see that the Internet can bring you?
- What is your greatest fear when you think about the Internet and your career?
The post shares their answers and their concerns. Deborah notes that the students concerns about the impact of the Internet on the profession track the concerns of lawyers. It's fascinating reading.
Deborah also links in the post to her presentation slides.
There does seem to be a bit more of a trend in the last year or so of inviting people knowledgeable on law practice managment to speak to law students.
I (Dennis Kennedy) will be speaking to a group of students at the University of Missouri Law School in April about careers, social media, technology and whatever else students have on their minds. I'm looking forward to it. As Deborah indicates in her post, there definitely seems to be demand for these types of sessions.
January 15, 2011
Professionalism & Ethics in Today's Technology
In its September/October issue, “The Bencher,” the magazine of the American Inns of Court, published several helpful articles on the subject. Here are the articles available to the public online:
- Complex Ethical Issues of Social Media
- Transparency in E-Discovery: No Longer a Novel Approach
- Cloud Computing—Panacea or Ethical “Black Hole” for Lawyers
- Electronic Discovery and Social Networking Sites
- Judicial Ethics, The Internet, and Social Media
Here is the link that will lead you to the articles.
In case you are unfamiliar with the American Inns of Court, here is a brief description:
American Inns of Court (AIC) are designed to improve the skills, professionalism and ethics of the bench and bar. An American Inn of Court is an amalgam of judges, lawyers, and in some cases, law professors and law students. Each Inn meets approximately once a month both to "break bread" and to hold programs and discussions on matters of ethics, skills and professionalism.
The membership is divided into “pupillage teams,” with each team consisting of a few members from each membership category. Each pupillage team conducts one program for the Inn each year. Pupillage team members get together informally outside of monthly Inn meetings in groups of two or more. This allows the less-experienced attorneys to become more effective advocates and counselors by learning from the more-experienced attorneys and judges. In addition, each less-experienced member is assigned to a more-experienced attorney or judge who acts as a mentor and encourages conversations about the practice of law.
For more information, please visit www.innsofcourt.org
November 24, 2010
Lawyer's Guide to LexisNexis CaseMap
CaseMap seems to be popular in this area. The LexisNexis software permits integrating case law, legal analysis, and factual evidence of all sorts. The ABA Law Practice Management Division has just published “A Lawyer’s Guide to LexisNexis CaseMap” by attorney Dan Siegel. Here’s the ad.