Friday, September 19, 2014

Adobe's General Counsel on the need for law schools to provide more practical training

In this editorial from the Huffington Post, Adobe's General Counsel, Michael Dillon, calls on law schools to change the way they educate students so they learn the practical skills employers want.   As others have suggested (here, here and here), Mr. Dillon says that law schools need to do more to help law students understand business basics.  He also mentions a few innovative programs like CU's tech accelerator project and Michigan State's ReInvent Law Laboratory (here and here) as good ideas more schools need to explore.  Also among his suggestions is that schools model themselves after medical schools (here, here and here) by providing mentored, residency-like experiences during the 3L year.  Though there's nothing especially new here, it's important to give an ear to the people who will be hiring our students like Mr. Dillon.  An excerpt:

Reinventing Law School

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The Digital Age has also hurt job prospects for recent U.S. law school graduates, as legal work has become increasingly portable. Today, companies are able to move work to more cost-effective locations. Some work can even be handled abroad.

Fortunately, law schools can address these challenges by adopting a more practical, career-specific approach to training.

Consider the "ReInvent Law Laboratory" at Michigan State. The program was created, in part, to mix technology into the law school's curriculum. Today, the Law Lab hosts conferences across the world that have been called "TED for lawyers." The creators hope that by combining tech and law, lawyers will eventually revolutionize their services to better serve the public.

At the University of Colorado, the law school offers a four-week Tech Lawyer Accelerator program. After the program ends, students spend a semester working for a startup. As with Northwestern University, the school is working to integrate law with business and technology.

A revamped American system might take its cue from medical schools. Under this model, second and third-year law students would choose a specialty track focused on classes relevant to working in-house, at a law firm, in the public sector, or at a nonprofit.

Students would also spend time with a range of practicing lawyers, learning on-the-job in several subspecialties of their chosen field -- similar to the rotations of a surgical resident. At the same time, law schools could offer classes in practical business skills like public speaking, corporate management, or even spreadsheet basics.

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You can continue reading Mr. Dillon's thoughts here.


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