A better-prepared generation than ever before.

Vol. 42 No. 2

Dennis W. Archer is chairman emeritus for the law firm of Dickinson Wright. He is a past ABA president and State Bar of Michigan president. He served on the Michigan Supreme Court from 1986–1990 and was mayor of Detroit from 1994–2001.

At its core, the legal practice hasn’t changed much during my career. It still consists of research, writing, strategy, and hard work. However, one aspect that has changed is the way that new lawyers gain practical experience. In the 1970s, law students could graduate and expect to spend their first few years learning to practice under the supervision of employers who would provide hands-on training. New lawyers could get courtroom experience in their first year, and often that experience involved jury trials. For many reasons, including tort reform and a rise in the use of alternative dispute resolution, the number of trials has greatly declined. Today’s new lawyers may wait years before they get any meaningful courtroom experience.

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