In Brief

Vol. 42 No. 6

See you next fall, 3Ls?

Many people—including President Obama—have recently been calling for law school to be shortened to two years. But one professor, Edward A. Zelinsky of Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, thinks they’ve got it all wrong.

In a post called “Add a fourth year to law school” at the OUPblog (http://blog.oup.com), Zelinsky explains why he thinks it would be a good idea to do just that.

Whole new fields of law have emerged in recent years, Zelinsky says, and even in those that have been around for a long time, the past couple of decades have brought a great deal of change. This means “there is today much more law to learn than there was in the past,” Zelinsky believes.

LLM programs are expanding in many areas of law, he adds, which means “we are de facto creeping towards four years of legal education.” Zelinsky would like that four-year model to be universal rather than “haphazard.”

Zelinsky notes that “many of the same critics who favor a two year law school curriculum also support expanded clinical education for law students.” A fourth year, he says, would be a way to accomplish this without carving into the time devoted to more traditional legal education.

The skills that small-firm employers are looking for

Whether because of the economy or because it’s your preferred setting, there’s a good chance you’ll start your career not in Big Law but in Small Law. So it’s a good idea to learn the skills that solo and small-firm lawyers are seeking.

That’s Carolyn Elefant’s premise in a post called “Open letter to law schools: What law students need to learn to be hired by tomorrow’s largest legal employer—solos and smalls.”

At myShingle.com, Elefant, herself a small-firm practitioner, outlines half a dozen skills she wants to see in her next new-lawyer hire. Among them:

Analysis and legal writing. Elefant needs someone who can see a case from many different angles and who can “write with confidence and power and purpose, cogently and void of jargon.”

Blogging. “If there is a single skill that I wish law schools would focus on, it should be blogging,” Elefant writes. Why? She has found that blogging has helped improve her own legal writing. Also, a law student who becomes familiar with blogging tools would have valuable skills to offer a practicing lawyer who is looking to build up his or her online content.

Social media. Wait—aren’t law students supposed to stay off social media because of “character and fitness” concerns? Elefant thinks this is throwing the baby out with the bath water. New lawyers should be well versed in social media, she believes, because it’s a great way to stay current and to “keep my firm in front of potential clients.”

What do you get out of law school?

A great education and a start in a new career, sure. But just for fun, Ruth Carter makes her own list of “The unexpected benefits of law school” at www.undeniableruth.com.

Those benefits include:

New glasses. In fact, Carter says, thanks to all the reading and writing, “I had to get new glasses twice in law school.”

New wardrobe. “It seemed like everyone in my class either lost 10 pounds during law school or gained 15 pounds or more depending on what happened to our appetites when we got stressed.”

Dorky rolling bag. Carter was content carrying her books and laptop in a backpack—until she was in a car accident and could no longer support weight on her back. “I swallowed my pride and bought a rolling bag—and it’s great,” she says.

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