Thursday, September 16, 2010
The Chicago Lawyer Magazineheld a deans' roundtable with the deans of five Chicago-area law schools. They discussed changes in legal education, changes to the law school curriculum, providing practical education, and how the economy affects law school applications.
Dean John Corkery of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago said that law firms would like to see more (rather than less) emphasis on legal writing, training to improve analytical skills, and training that would require lawyers to work together well. That kind of an answer, I believe, shows a good sense of what law firms want law schools to do and the important role that a good legal writing program can play in a law school.
Dean Howard Krent of Chicago-Kent College of Law said that law firms were putting more of a premium on having new hires "get it quickly." Whereas firms in the past might give associates three years or so before deciding how they were doing in the law firm, now that period may be as short as six months.
But Warren Wolfson, a former Illinois Appellate Court Justice who is now serving as the Interim Dean at the DePaul University College of Law, gave the most puzzling quote of all -- one that would certainly light up a legal writing listserve with at least a week of discussion on what he meant by the comment. Here's what he said:
"I'd like to figure out some way to teach students how to write. I was on the appellate court for 15 years, and the state of writing among new lawyers and young lawyers is deplorable. It just seems that legal writing, every time I've run across it in law school, is the crazy uncle in the closet. No one wants to get in there. The students hate it. They don't come out learning how to write. I would like to see that somehow change."
I'm not quite sure what to make of that statement. Your comments here would be much appreciated.