By: Maria Hibbard
We’ve all heard the call for more “realistic” education experiences while in law school – but two recent reports show that these rallying cries are actually having an impact on both the number of “practical skills” courses available and the number of students that take advantage of these opportunities. WSJ Law Blog reports on ABA research on practical courses:
Seventy-six percent of law schools surveyed said they have modified their course offerings to adapt to the job market for lawyers and are trying to incorporate more clinics, simulations and externships, the National Law Journal reported.
“The survey responses reveal a renewed commitment by law schools to review and revise their curricula to produce practice-ready professionals,” Hulett “Bucky” Askew, the ABA’s consultant on legal education, told NLJ. “The report illuminates the extent to which faculties and administrators have responded to the evolving needs of their students and to changes in the legal services industry.”
The majority of schools — 87% according to the survey — now offer joint degrees, with J.D./M.B.A. being the most common.
In 2010 and 2011, NALP also conducted research on the number of attorneys that had taken practical skills courses while in law school – and categorized them by their self-reported “usefulness” and current job type of the attorneys completing the surveys. The most common practical skills course was trial advocacy, followed by appellate advocacy and negotiation. The 2010 survey focused on law firm attorneys, while the 2011 survey focused on attorneys in government and the nonprofit sector. This latter group had participated in more practical skills courses and experiences, and found them to be more useful than law-firm attorneys. Many attorneys, regardless of practice area, reported their clinical experiences to be very valuable. This trend, combined with ruminations about mandatory pro bono programs, is encouraging – with the increased availability of practical skills courses while in law school, more law students can develop more employable skills, and will be ready to hit the ground running after graduation and the bar exam.