There are numerous posts on Lawyerist about whether applying to law school is a good idea. The legal economy simply cannot provide jobs for the number of students graduating each year.

On top of the that, many schools provide students with little to no practical skills, making a solo career difficult, if not impossible, right after graduation.

Is it time for law schools to radically revamp their curricula and move to a trade school format?

Are the wrong professors teaching students?

One theory is that the problem lies with the professors—many of whom are academically brilliant, but may have modest practical experience. I am not convinced this is the source of the problem.

The reasoning and logic taught by professors, hopefully creating a strong ability to think critically, is extremely important. Sure, I hated archaic property cases, but I know that understanding the reasoning behind them helped develop my critical thinking skills. If you can understand the “logic” of those cases, you can dissect any case.

Have practicing attorneys teach practical classes

Law students need practical, skills-based classes. Some students will seek out that type of experience on their own, through a clerkship, an internship, etc. Many students, however, will not. At graduation, they may lack even the most basic lawyering skills.

For example, if you never interviewed a client during law school, how are you going to do it in real life? I know that the University of Minnesota is making changes to its curriculum to help students develop practical skills, as early as first year now.

If law schools adapt a curriculum that requires practical classes, have practicing attorneys teach the classes. They may not be teachers, but they can provide valuable insight into how real life differs from the classroom.

Making a massive switch to a trade-school system is a drastic solution to the problem. Incorporating more practical classes with good attorneys will go a long way toward helping students develop their skills as lawyers.

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