Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Several BigLaw firms assume responsibility for teaching associates the stuff they didn't learn in law school

As Bloomberg Law reports, several white-shoe NYC firms aren't relying on law schools to prepare practice-ready grads. Instead, they've created internal programs to train new hires in the specific skills they will need to succeed within the relevant practice areas. From Bloomberg Law:

For New Associates, Work Seems Like School

It’s like going back to school.

Before they begin to work, new lawyers at many big firms complete lengthy orientation programs that provide instruction on topics like basic accounting and finance.

But that’s not the only way that firms resemble school. In addition to substantive topics, associates are now greeted with resident advisers, on-call, in-house training staff, and even summer reading lists. It’s a not-so-tacit recognition that newly minted attorneys have educational gaps that need to be filled and, almost as importantly, they need and want oversight, extra help, and lots of feedback and career guidance.

“It’s become remarkably like going to college or law school,” said Jeffrey Knight, a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. “Law firms have been thinking more about the first year or two and providing more options for a structured learning environment.”

Pillsbury, like several other firms, runs boot camps for new lawyers. Other firms hold so-called mini MBA programs for those starting out. Lasting from one-to-three weeks, these programs incorporate business school classes with more general orientation, offering incoming associates the chance to learn finance and accounting skills they may not have learned in school.

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That is actually how the system should operate. The firms have their own specific priority skill sets and knowledge clusters as well as the resources to develop and conduct such focused programs. Their hiring decisions are going to be based on acquiring what they see as the brightest people who can be quickly trained up into the skills and knowledge the Big Law firms want. Other than PR law schools should not be wasting time on curricular changes aimed at preparing students for that employment niche.

There are numerous other skill and knowledge contexts needed at other levels of law practice, including but not limited to solo practitioners, in which basic and sophisticated skills and knowledge programs can have an impact and at which there is a lower probability that such programs and resources will be available after graduation.

Posted by: David | Sep 23, 2015 12:27:47 PM

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