Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Law School and the Real World

There are those who say that law school teaches the theory but not the practical skills of being a lawyer. Some law school classes are obvious exceptions - e.g., in Lawyering Skills you learn and improve your legal research and writing skills, and you get a chance to try client interviewing and oral advocacy. In clinics, you may meet with real clients and appear in court under the supervision of a licensed, practicing attorney. There are also other classes in which the focus is on skills rather than theory. And, of course, you will need the background of the substantive law classes, even if they seem merely theoretical to you right now.

But what about all those day-to-day rules and policies that may sometimes seem more annoying than educational? Are they teaching you anything practical that you will need to know when you start practicing law? According to Kristen David Adams, co-author of The Practice of Law School: Getting In and Making the Most of Your Law School Education, many of the seeemingly rigid requirements of law school are imposed by the faculty for the purpose of teaching students the discipline they will need to be competent attorneys. For example, the penalty you will pay in law school for being late or unprepared for class, or for turning in a paper late, is small compared to the penalty you would pay if you showed up late or unprepared for court, or tried to file a document with the court even a minute late.

First year students, who will be participating in their first oral arguments over the next couple of weeks, can take comfort in the fact that all those hours they have spent being questioned by professors in class have prepared them to think on their feet, a skill they will need for oral argument and many other situations in the practice of law. Read about the other hidden educational benefits of law school at All You Really Need to Know You Learned in Law School.

Thanks to The E-LawLibrary Weblog for the link.

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