CONFERENCE SUGGESTS RADICAL LAW SCHOOL MAKEOVERS
Law firms may not be known for innovation, but they look positively cutting edge next to law schools. That was the consensus among law firm leaders, professors and entrepreneurs attending the recent Leading Legal Innovation conference at the University of Southern California's Gould School of Law. Among the topics on the table: Law schools are great at teaching students how to read a court decision, but they don't teach many of the skills needed to be a successful lawyer. Some schools recommend adding foundational competencies that cover teamwork, improved communications skills and strategic decision making. Others suggest teaching and screening for interpersonal skills.
So, yeah, its no wonder people think new law grads don't have interpersonal skills. And "teaching and screening" for such skills won't help. Because I'm pretty fucking personable (even with the all the swearing), ask anyone, but you never would had known that had you been a partner at the firm I worked for. And that's because you probably never would have actually tried to talk to me, except perhaps about how I only billed 200 hours last month or how my memo lacked this or that or how you had dinner reservations with a client so I had to work late to get started on something you needed by morning (which you never actually needed by fucking morning and which you should have done yourself earlier in the day). Now, had you been an associate -- you would have gotten to know me because we would have had real conversations, like real people do in real life. Besides, the vast majority of my law school classmates were all very personable people, at least in law school. But I'm sure many of them were later found to be lacking in interpersonal skills precisely for the same reason I would have been.
Law schools probably do need a major makeover, and probably should do more to teach people how to be lawyers. But at the same time, the people who oversee this makeover should remember that all the interpersonal skills training in the world will do nothing to change perceptions of new law grads if the people they work for continue to treat them like cogs in some great wheel of commerce as opposed to free thinking individuals.