Law in Contemporary Society

DtRK, I've edited in order to cut down on words so that maybe we can add another skill that I think is crucial to becoming a good lawyer: that is the skill of being able to talk to people who know nothing about the law/the skill to interact with clients. Do you feel as though CLS teaches that with clinics and externships and do you feel that those methods are sufficient? I'm not sure how that skill would work into your thesis: if law schools would learn how to teach that skill from looking to the business school model. Lastly, you make reference to the law school a lot. I assume you mean CLS so I'm going to replace that with CLS as opposed to law school in general. I think I shaved off about 100 words of wiggle room for you to go to town on your rewrite. Have fun! -Ash

PS I don't know how to change the color of my writing so I used italics...

Being an Entrepreneur Lawyer

The education of 1L year has not provided me or my classmates with all of the skills necessary to become a productive lawyer. Though Columbia Law School (“CLS”) has provided its students with a few of the skills necessary for this pursuit, it could learn a lot from the business school on how to help students learn the others. Regardless of the specific way that law students want to use their licenses, Law School should train students to think like entrepreneurs in order to transform students into productive lawyers.

Legal Skills

The following are skills are already emphasized at CLS: Close Reading of Text Cognitive Dissonance Communication in the Face of Intellectual Assault ("Spin," "Arguing Well" or "Dealing with the Socratic Method")

Formatting got messed up here and I don't know how to fix it :-(

Entrepreneurial Methods

The following are skills that CLS should start teaching. It would be prudent for CLS to examine the teaching methods of the business school in order to learn how to effectively imbue these skills on its law students.

Technological Integration

There are distinct gains to be made in legal learning through intelligent use of technology. A large part of what we pay can be explained in economic terms as what the market will bear (ie waste). In California, correspondence law schools teach the same subjects as CLS (though quite differently) at a fraction of the cost. To me, this suggests that we could gain a lot from moving some of our rote learning online. The goal is not to abandon all of our classroom interactions, nor to lose our sense of community, but to strengthen both. Just because the internet has made it easier for less prestigious and less wealthy institutions to spread knowledge doesn't mean it can't do the same for schools older than our country. The future of social interaction is bound up in technology, and the better we can adapt our education to that fact, the more equipped our lawyers will be to deal with their clients' problems - both in understanding and in capacity.

It might be cool to bring up Kali's example in class the other day about the atty who only has a web office to demonstrate that the world is changing and we need to understand technology in order to be competitive. Also, I'm not sure if this would be redundant but it might be very demonstrative to point to this class if you think it exemplifies the teaching method that law schools should encourage and why.

Collaboration vs. Competition

The fixation on grades at this school is a nominally pro-student phenomenon. The firms want grades, so our students should have some by the time EIP rolls around. This justification is flimsy, and has been discussed at length in this class over the course of the semester. Why is doesn't it hold in Uris hall, where many students are also being recruited in a similar fashion? How is it that Business School is the most touchy-feely, collaborative, judgment-free place on this campus? It seems that in the raw pursuit of lucre, working together works. Why is this less true for lawyers? What solo practitioner ever achieved anything without the ability to convince other people to work with her? What project ever gets done in a big firm by one single hired brain? Lawyers don't work in organizations any smaller than businesspeople do, in fact, they are businesspeople. Whether they litigate, negotiate, advise, or write, lawyers work for and with people. Strengthening their ability to do that should be a prime goal of law school.

It's arguable that activities such as journals, moot court, and even student organizations foster that kind of collaboration. That admitted, the core courses do not foster any meaningful collaboration. Study groups may be fun, but by introducing diverging goals (grades) to compete with the shared goal of learning, collaboration is not really going to get off the ground. Of course there are always competing goals in life and work, but the blunt pressure not to help each other out makes grades worse than pointless - they're counter-productive.

Social Relationship Construction ("Networking")

Law schools have begun to recognize how important building a professional network is, but I am not certain they've grasped exactly how it works. Their conception of networking seems confined to getting drunk in order to facilitate meeting peers or potential employers. More broadly, perhaps, you're encouraged to go to office hours and find a mentor. This seems to be a silly way to teach people to interact professionally, and to build professional relationships. The lack of emphasis on collaboration really goes hand in hand with this issue - people gain trust in each other and connect by working together. Until you create conditions where they have to do this in a regular, extensive and long term fashion, as in the workplace, these networks will not be built.

Project-Based Work

There is not enough follow-through and follow-up work in Law School. While the basic survey courses of the foundation may seem to require simple rote learning, this does not in any way reflect the way lawyers work or learn. Giving law students experience working on a broad problem through a series of assignments requiring different skills (including technical and collaborative skills) would be a more productive and valuable use of our long semesters, and maintain student engagement with the material.

Steps towards progress?

There are law schools experimenting with different tracks. Our law school will offer a 3 year JD/MBA soon. Many business courses are being cross listed as law classes.

This is not enough, however. Nor is it the right way to change the way we learn. Tacking business classes on to law school will appeal to those who may want to work in corporate law or even in business after graduation, but it won't change the fundamental nature of the law school experience. Teaching business to lawyers does not equal teaching lawyers in business-like modes.

Maybe you could tack on a "in summary" sentence to help to make this writing have better closure.

-- By DRussellKraft - 17 Apr 2010



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r9 - 13 Jan 2012 - 23:34:18 - IanSullivan
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