A recent article in The New York Times highlights the failure of law schools to teach their students how to practice law. It describes law schools as seeking to teach an academic version of the law, to some extent harkening back to the 19th century when law schools were first established, instead of the practical skills lawyers need to practice today.
This long-term situation has been exacerbated in recent years by the factors US News and World Report uses to rank law schools, which in part emphasizes the number of law review articles written by law school faculty. This illness is especially acute among the higher-ranking schools.
While many schools have begun clinical programs that aim to teach legal skills such as client interviewing, drafting pleadings, negotiation, and trial practice, the clinical instructors typically have lower prestige and lower pay than academic professors.
With law schools costing as much as $50,000 a year, students can graduate $150,000 in debt, with little ability to actually practice law, an ability they must gain on the job, if they can find a job. With the economy suffering and the advent of LegalZoom and other alternatives to hiring lawyers, jobs for new graduates are in short supply.
Margolis & Bloom has launched an initiative to do our small part in helping to remedy this situation. We have launched a one-year estate planning internship for new law school graduates. It’s purpose is to give new lawyers the opportunity to learn the craft by working with our clients. At the same time, we will make an effort during the year to provide mentorship, guidance and teaching legal skills.
We are proud to welcome our first intern, Nikki Oliviera, a 2010 graduate of the New England School of Law. Nikki went on to get an LLM in taxation from the Boston University School of Law.