A recent study confirms what some bar associations and law schools have learned through experience: The changing legal market requires that law school graduates have more practical skills and professional attributes, as well as traditional legal training, to be better able to find employment after they graduate.
“New lawyers need some legal skills and require intelligence, but they are successful when they come to the job with a much broader blend of legal skills, professional competencies, and characteristics that comprise the whole lawyer,” says Alli Gerkman, director of Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers, which conducted the survey as part of its Foundations for Practice project. ETL is part of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.
The survey, to which more than 24,000 practicing lawyers across the country responded, is the first part of an effort by ETL to close the “employment gap” for law school graduates.
“This first phase was about understanding what legal employers need,” Gerkman said. “In the next phase, we want to take those results and work with law schools and legal employers to look at what they’re doing and evaluate whether they have programs in place that are ensuring that their students graduate with these foundations.”
Could this mean an increasing role for bar associations in helping law students gain necessary skills before the JD?