Issue #17 of Equipping Our Lawyers eNewsletter
Editor's Note: This newsletter seeks to encourage implementation of the Recommendations from the October 2009 ALI-ABA/ACLEA Critical Issues Summit: Equipping Our Lawyers. It also highlights developments through the whole continuum of legal education that parallel those Recommendations.
See www.equippingourlawyers.org for the text of the Recommendations and for a wealth of related news, Spotlight stories, past newsletters, archives, and more. And as always, please do not hesitate to add your comments to this newsletter or the website.
Chuck Bingaman, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Franchised Law Firms and the Equipping of Lawyers
If Jordan Furlong is correct in his recent Law21 blog, the future of many small law firms is as a franchisee in a larger amalgamation of firms--a trend playing out now in England and Wales.
What effect would this trend have on the Summit Recommendations? One possibility might be a greater effectiveness of career-long training as large legal entities with many franchisees centralize and professionalize their hiring, training, mentoring and performance evaluation systems.
For Furlong's eye-opening vision of the future of many small firms, see www.law21.ca.
Editor's Note: Furlong consults and writes on the developing edges of law practice and is an important voice in the field. See below for another path many small firms are taking to balance their desire for independence with their need for broader competitive resources. CCB
The Rise of Law Firm Networks... and Their Meaning for Equipping Lawyers
ALI-ABA has just published a new book titled Understanding and Using Networks for Law Practice Development, by Roy Ginsburg and others. Law firm networks are organizations of independent law firms that promote referrals among members, exchanges of information with each other throughout the world, and ways of better serving their clients. Less integrated vertically than the franchised businesses described above by Jordan Furling, law firm networks nevertheless are also growing and offer new opportunities for preparing lawyers for rapidly changing practice demands. For full information about this new reference on networks, see http://is.gd/rxQ6GE.
Editor's Note: As more and more clients present issues with multi-state and even transnational implications, small firms must be able to extend their reach. Participation in one or more networks may be the key to staying competitive for many firms. In addition, network participation may be an efficient, profitable way for firms to build their clientele, enhance their practice competencies, and improve hiring, training, mentoring and performance evaluations. Such networks could serve their members in providing innovation and leadership in in-house training as urged by Recommendations # 13, 14 and 15.
Among many valuable parts of the book, "Understanding and Using Networks for Practice Development" lists scores of existing law firm networks--with their website addresses--for individuals or small firms to use in investigating the possibilities. CCB
New Chair, Members May Re-Orient ABA Standards Review Committee
|Prof. Jeffrey Lewis
Prof. Jeffrey Lewis is the new chair of the ABA Law School Standards Review Committee, having taken over from Dean Donald Polden of Santa Clara Law School. In addition, six new members are replacing participants whose terms have expired.
Chairman Lewis' first meeting is set as an open forum in Chicago on November 11 to enable all those who are interested to make comments on the controversial and now three-year-old Standards Review project.
For full information on the Chicago meeting, see http://is.gd/IgIXxu. For details on the committee reorganization and path forward, see Karen Sloan's October 19 story in the National Law Journal at http://www.is.gd/THf6UE.
Editor's Note: The Committee has worked for three years in its review of the Standards but has made limited progress in the face of sometimes passionate opposition. Some of its members have pushed hard to require law schools to implement learning outcomes-based curricula; some have opposed such reforms. Summit Recommendations # 1, 2, and 3 urge such restructuring of law school curricula. Recommendation # 1, in particular, urges law schools to review teaching approaches to make them as effective as possible. This ABA committee has the power to push for these reforms. CCB
“First Thing We Do, Let's Deregulate All the Lawyers”: Are Law Schools and Bar Exams Necessary?
Economist and Senior Fellow in the Brookings Institution Clifford Wilson argued in an October 24 New York Times OpEd piece that mandatory attendance at ABA-approved law schools and passage of bar exams have ill-served legal services consumers and many in the profession itself.
“In reality,” says Wilson, “occupational licensing [based on requiring attendance at ABA-approved law schools and passage of bar exams] has been costly and ineffective; it misleads consumers about the quality of licensed lawyers and the potential for non-lawyers to provide legal assistance.”
Allowing non-lawyers to provide legal services would, Wilson argues, make a range of affordable legal services available to millions who cannot now afford them, drive down the cost of services by licensed private lawyers, and reduce the tuition expense of and absurd borrowing for legal education. It might also increase the availability and variety of work for law school graduate. See http://is.gd/sdyY77 for the full article.
Editor’s Comment: The Summit Recommendations seek to improve the current system of ABA-accredited law schools and state-sponsored bar exams--not toss them out or suggest a parallel universe of non-licensed purveyors of legal services.
Wilson’s scheme of allowing people to bypass law school and bar exam requirements, if implemented, could have a crushing effect on a practicing bar already burdened with acute financial problems.
On the other hand, the presence of competitive sources of free-market legal services by non-licensed individuals and businesses, coupled with an untrammeled industry offering unbiased evaluation of such services, in the mode of Consumer Reports, Angie’s List, etc., might serve many currently underserved consumers--as well as potentially paying legal services customers--and bring needed pressure on the “licensed bar” to bring its services within financial reach of a broader public. Moreover, one can argue that such open market services, several online, are now appearing, rules or no rules, and the profession would be well-advised to plan accordingly.
Solo practitioner Carolyn Elefant, writing in her blog, picks apart Wilson’s arguments point by point. See http://is.gd/cpjZJR.
Better read both in preparation for your next cocktail party! CCB
Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers Now Tweeting at @ETLinitiative
Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers, the new law school education reform consortium based in the Sturm School of Law at the University of Colorado, is now tweeting actively on law school education issues at @ETLinitiative. ETL on October 19 quoted a new survey of corporate counsel in which 20% of corporate respondents said they will no longer will pay 1st or 2nd year associates' fees when they cannot add value to the work they are doing. See http://bit.ly/nAe6dB.
Editor's Comment: This survey simply adds more support to the notion that law schools need to move toward turning out "practice-ready" graduates, as suggested by the Summit Recommendations. While no law school can be expected to graduate students with highly tuned skills needed in all levels of legal work, possession of basic practice competencies is surely not too much to ask. CCB
Developments, Trends in In-House Professional Training Explored at 2011 Professional Development Institute
Cosponsored by ALI-ABA and NALP, The Association for Legal Career Professionals™, and in collaboration with the Professional Development Consortium, the 2011 Professional Development Institute is set for Thursday and Friday, December 8-9, 2011, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, DC. This popular annual conference will explore best practices in lawyer professional development. Here is a sampling of sessions at this program:
- Innovative Training Techniques
- Building An Effective Partner Development Program
- Training Using Your In-House Talent
- Professional Development Programs for Millennials
- Associate Evaluations in the New Economy
- Business Development Skills for Associates
- Designing and Implementing a Levels-Based Curriculum
- Upward Reviews from Start to Finish
- Mining the AmLaw Midlevel Survey for Insights on Talent Management
For complete information or to participate, see http://is.gd/LAodTT.
Editor's Comment: The Summit Recommendations urge legal employers to provide the best in career-long education, and Summit Recommendations #11-14 directly address best practices in law firm CLE. This annual conference offers law firms and law schools the latest in tools, resources and research on lawyer professional development. CCB