Leaders of law firms and law schools today find themselves relentlessly focused on where law practice is headed. If they are not building structures that prepare aspiring professionals to thrive over several decades, then they are not doing their jobs. Yet such leaders must readily acknowledge that their own careers within the legal profession offered insufficient formal training in the skills and habits needed to plan strategy for the world of 2025 and beyond. For those entering the profession today, this is one of many aspects of core preparation that absolutely must change.
As the path to professional success is re-imagined, the starting point for lawyers hoping to flourish is that they be responsive to client needs and sensitive to public values. The question is how can new lawyers both within law schools and law firms be best trained to ensure that client concerns are paramount and that an appreciation for the public good informs legal advice. Of course, the hallmarks of great lawyering will always remain: knowledge of the law, rigorous analysis, strong listening skills, and clarity of written and oral communication. However, more is needed to educate tomorrow’s first-rate professionals. Indeed, challenging and imaginative education in school and at work constitutes the best solution to the current struggles confronting our profession and America’s law schools. Here are some ways to improve lawyer training.