Monday, September 10, 2018

Forbes: "How Will Legal Education And Training Keep Pace With Change?"

A column by Forbes contributor, legal consultant and former BigLaw partner Mark Cohen that mentions the LawWithoutWalls project and The Institute for the Future of Law Practice among other points. Here's an excerpt:

How Will Legal Education And Training Keep Pace With Change?

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The transition of law from lawyer-centric, provincial, labor-intensive guild to a customer-focused, global, digitized industry requires new skillsets and training.  Technology and business are now tools of the legal trade and legal education and training have lagged the marketplace. Clients are under intense pressure to “do more with less,” and they are applying that standard to legal delivery. They demand efficient, predictive, cost-effective, accessible, scalable, and agile delivery of legal services.


“Knowledge of the law” alone is insufficient for all but a handful of elite lawyers. “Practice” is narrowing as “the business of delivering legal services” is expanding. The latter requires a suite of new skillsets—project management, data analytics, business basics, technical agility, and collaboration, among others—that have yet to become standard fare in legal training. Bill Henderson, a leader in aligning the Academy with the marketplace, sums up the state-of-play: “Legal education and the legal profession are at an inflection point where traditional models of education and practice no longer fit the shifting needs of the market.”


The Skill Gap


The reconfiguration of legal delivery and the skills now required has created a widening gap between demand and the supply of qualified labor. Most law schools continue to focus on doctrinal law and how to “think like a lawyer.” Their curricula are light on practice skills, marketplace changes, and business of law skills. Law schools prepare students for practice careers even as thedata shows an accelerating market shift from law firms (practice-centric) to law companies (business/tech-centric).


Jae Um wrote a piece examining the human resource challenges-- the skills, knowledge and experiences that people need to realize innovation (change)—and the structural and cultural barrier legal innovation teams confront accessing the talent required. Ms. Um shines a light on the legal industry’s “skill gap” and provides a candid assessment: “high-caliber professionals with the necessary specialized business and technical skills are in short supply.”


The challenge confronting the industry is how to identify, mine, train, deploy and scale talent to fill the gap. The solution is a two-step process that involves: (1) augmenting legal expertise with additional skills focused on technological application and process/project management (as well as data analytics, collaboration, personal branding, and a learning for life mindset); and (2) economic, organizational, and cultural parity among legal professionals. If this sounds like a heavy lift, it is. 

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 You can read the full Forbes column here.


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