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elainechao

Not taught the practice of law?

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How come there is not a greater focus on what a poor job law school prepares you for the practice of law? Considering how much of the public dollar the profs make you would think there would be more accountability.

One theory (re not being taught the practice of law) is that a lot of the profs actually haven't spent much time practicing law. The adjuncts obviously, but many are just academics who went straight from school to prof.

Edited by elainechao
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I think an answer you'll get is that it is difficult/impossible to really teach the practice of law in an academic setting.  This is why there was significant skepticism to the LPP as an alternative to articling.  I don't personally think its unreasonable to argue that "mock" practice exercises have real merit (I recall a lot of Law Society approved CPD being essentially mock activities).  However, I think that its probably an unbridgeable gap to create a law school experience that actually prepares for the practice of law given that one is school and the other is not school.    

I think about my experiences now in a non-law field (labour relations) and how there really is no substitute for actually doing the work as a part of professional development and career growth.  School can teach you all about the labour relations act, and may even send you through mock negotiation exercises, but the day to day is much more complex and nuanced than all that.  I would actually be very concerned if someone came out of school with the feeling that they know everything about the day to day of the work. 

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5 minutes ago, Adrian said:

I think an answer you'll get is that it is difficult/impossible to really teach the practice of law in an academic setting.  This is why there was significant skepticism to the LPP as an alternative to articling.  I don't personally think its unreasonable to argue that "mock" practice exercises have real merit (I recall a lot of Law Society approved CPD being essentially mock activities).  However, I think that its probably an unbridgeable gap to create a law school experience that actually prepares for the practice of law given that one is school and the other is not school.    

I think about my experiences now in a non-law field (labour relations) and how there really is no substitute for actually doing the work as a part of professional development and career growth.  School can teach you all about the labour relations act, and may even send you through mock negotiation exercises, but the day to day is much more complex and nuanced than all that.  I would actually be very concerned if someone came out of school with the feeling that they know everything about the day to day of the work. 

This is the "tyranny of low expectations." Medical schools have no issues putting students into the fray and making them "do the work" for their four years in "school", and the medical profession has no issue training those students for another 3-7 years.

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2 minutes ago, Eeee said:

This is the "tyranny of low expectations." Medical schools have no issues putting students into the fray and making them "do the work" for their four years in "school", and the medical profession has no issue training those students for another 3-7 years.

I think the point is that there is going to be a long tail of learning in this (and any) profession in any event and so the idea that school is not properly preparing people is not necessarily a safe assumption.  I'll also note the value of spending dedicated time simply learning the law, which you won't really get again.   

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I am definitely of the view that academic coursework is an asinine way to learn law. There is a reason that legal training used to be based on apprenticeship programs (unfortunately there were legitimate nepotism and elitism concerns that caused the move away from that system).

1L has a purpose of providing a core, black letter law foundation that all lawyers should have, since people aren't going to get such broad exposure in legal practice that quickly (and also to rank talent for employers). But there is no valid reason for law school to be three years long.

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Law school is as useful as you make it. I substantially improved my "business writing" at law school. I also made a point of doing internship during the school year to get practical experience as a counter balance. While my day-to-day practice is nothing like what I learned at law school, it provided me with a lot of transferable skills. 

42 minutes ago, elainechao said:

How come there is not a greater focus on what a poor job law school prepares you for the practice of law? Considering how much of the public dollar the profs make you would think there would be more accountability.

One theory (re not being taught the practice of law) is that a lot of the profs actually haven't spent much time practicing law. The adjuncts obviously, but many are just academics who went straight from school to prof.

Academics are paid much less than practicing lawyers, so I wouldn't really be criticizing them for being underpaid. On a personal level, my entire career was shaped by a retired solicitor who taught municipal & planning law.  He got my foot into the door. 

I don't think law school can prepare you for actually practicing law. There are simply too many practice areas that are too different, and which you only learn by specializing into them. To me, law school is about introducing students to different areas of law. Working in the summers is where you learn the practice of law. 

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2 hours ago, Adrian said:

I think about my experiences now in a non-law field (labour relations) and how there really is no substitute for actually doing the work as a part of professional development and career growth.  School can teach you all about the labour relations act, and may even send you through mock negotiation exercises, but the day to day is much more complex and nuanced than all that. 

how much did you spend on your non-law education, though?

1 hour ago, adVenture said:

I don't think law school can prepare you for actually practicing law. There are simply too many practice areas that are too different, and which you only learn by specializing into them. To me, law school is about introducing students to different areas of law. Working in the summers is where you learn the practice of law. 

is this really all i'm gonna get for sacrificing up to $100k and three years of my life? i'd be ok with that if law school charged regular graduate school fees, not ~$100k. when i first came to this board i was shocked to read that some law students are even willing to article for free, that one should feel lucky to get anything at all, the justification being that you are still technically 'a student' and the market is dire. i was expecting rosier outcomes tbh 

 

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9 minutes ago, levin said:

how much did you spend on your non-law education, though?

is this really all i'm gonna get for sacrificing up to $100k and three years of my life? i'd be ok with that if law school charged regular graduate school fees, not ~$100k. when i first came to this board i was shocked to read that some law students are even willing to article for free, that one should feel lucky to get anything at all, the justification being that you are still technically 'a student' and the market is dire. i was expecting rosier outcomes tbh 

 

To be clear, I went to law school and practiced law for a couple of years before I left to non-practicing roles.   

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To push back on the "law school too theoretical" point--I don't think that anyone argues that law schools should be all theory totally divorced from the real world. That isn't a good way to train people for practice or academic work, because even the academics suffer if they don't know what its like on the ground. 

At the same time: the people who think that we should radically shift to a heavily practice oriented framework seem to ignore the strengths of having a strong theoretical foundation in the law. Knowing the first principles, the deeper meanings behind these things allows you to make more creative arguments and move the body of law forward. 

I think the debate can be analogized to the broader idea that a university should more or less be a vocational training school- an idea that is often levied against the utility of subjects other than STEM. In that case, the contention is wrong: a university is a place to move the body of knowledge forward, and the education and soft skills (research, critical thinking, writing) that one receives at a university will be useful in many different fields. With law, it is different, seeing as it is a professional program where the vast majority of students want to practice for at least some period of time. I think that the people who just want to teach us how to practice, with the idea that every grad should be ready to go out and hang a shingle after their call, miss that the theory is actually a useful professional tool.

Further, understanding the power structures and theory behind these decisions also goes to producing ethical and conscientious lawyers: do we really want a generation of Crowns that simply see themselves as technicians of criminal and evidence law, with the aim of imprisoning those whose files cross their desk?

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18 minutes ago, levin said:

is this really all i'm gonna get for sacrificing up to $100k and three years of my life?

If you're a mature student you're sacrificing much more. You're losing 4 years of peak earning wages and the opportunity to do something with that money.

Say you are a reasonably tenured F500 worker and you net $45k after taxes and expenses. Instead of leaving the work force and going to law school, you drive that money into a conservative $180k income portfolio growing at inflation. 40 years later you've doubled your money in real terms and you have 1/3rd of the cash component of a modest retirement portfolio. Locking in 1/3rd of your retirement gives you tremendous security and a cushion against any kind of misfortune or disruption.

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22 minutes ago, levin said:

how much did you spend on your non-law education, though?

is this really all i'm gonna get for sacrificing up to $100k and three years of my life? i'd be ok with that if law school charged regular graduate school fees, not ~$100k. when i first came to this board i was shocked to read that some law students are even willing to article for free, that one should feel lucky to get anything at all, the justification being that you are still technically 'a student' and the market is dire. i was expecting rosier outcomes tbh 

 

I loved law school and loved learning new areas of the law. I never contemplated a cost/benefit analysis of going to law school; I knew I would like it and be good at it and it was better than what ever else I had going on. Learning the law has been a joy. 

I was thinking the other day about how I have no idea how to run a sole practice, should things turn south after articling. I was driving along and realized I knew nothing about trust accounts or any of the other back-end LSO things we have to do. But I'm sure I can figure that out and would certainly have loathed any course dedicated to teaching me about it. 

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10 minutes ago, Otter248 said:

To push back on the "law school too theoretical" point--I don't think that anyone argues that law schools should be all theory totally divorced from the real world. That isn't a good way to train people for practice or academic work, because even the academics suffer if they don't know what its like on the ground. 

At the same time: the people who think that we should radically shift to a heavily practice oriented framework seem to ignore the strengths of having a strong theoretical foundation in the law. Knowing the first principles, the deeper meanings behind these things allows you to make more creative arguments and move the body of law forward. 

I think the debate can be analogized to the broader idea that a university should more or less be a vocational training school- an idea that is often levied against the utility of subjects other than STEM. In that case, the contention is wrong: a university is a place to move the body of knowledge forward, and the education and soft skills (research, critical thinking, writing) that one receives at a university will be useful in many different fields. With law, it is different, seeing as it is a professional program where the vast majority of students want to practice for at least some period of time. I think that the people who just want to teach us how to practice, with the idea that every grad should be ready to go out and hang a shingle after their call, miss that the theory is actually a useful professional tool.

Further, understanding the power structures and theory behind these decisions also goes to producing ethical and conscientious lawyers: do we really want a generation of Crowns that simply see themselves as technicians of criminal and evidence law, with the aim of imprisoning those whose files cross their desk?

Couldn't agree more. Divorcing practical education from theory is a recipe for disaster in the form of lack of innovation, misdirected research, and a whole host of other big picture but subtle issues

Edited by PolPhil

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As this thread continues, I think it bears keeping in mind that this is OP's first and only post, and they did so from a VPN/proxy, so I can't imagine them intending on engaging in good-faith discussion. Not that the topic itself is a bad thing to talk about, but I think everyone should be aware of OP's context.

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2 hours ago, levin said:

is this really all i'm gonna get for sacrificing up to $100k and three years of my life? i'd be ok with that if law school charged regular graduate school fees, not ~$100k. when i first came to this board i was shocked to read that some law students are even willing to article for free, that one should feel lucky to get anything at all, the justification being that you are still technically 'a student' and the market is dire. i was expecting rosier outcomes tbh 

Yes -- and I suspect that you should have done more due diligence because your expectations are uninformed, like many prospective law students, which is okay. I think if you ask most lawyers they will tell you that job prospects for students and junior lawyers is not very good. There are too many graduates and not enough articling positions or first year associate positions, so a significant minority of people are stuck with taking precarious and underpaid positions. There is also a very strong bimodal curve for lawyer compensation. For example, a corporate-commercial lawyer at a big firm with 1-year of experience can make 50% more than a criminal lawyer in solo practice with 10-years of experience. 

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I wasn't surprised by salary expectations. If there were surprises early on, it was that certain parts of the profession, particularly the law society, don't make it financially easier for articling students and new calls in lower paying roles.

I'm a little frustrated that we don't have a more progressive fee system. I went into lower paying roles for ideological and personal reasons. That was my choice. I know I have to take the economic consequences of my decision. But, those licensing fees and bar material costs were significant for me, as a licensing candidate. The annual fees are a little more manageable this year. Still, larger firms with wealthy institutional clients and established lawyers could absorb slightly higher fees relatively easily. Students and new calls with legal aid and people-facing practices can't. It is what it is, but a reduction of fees for lower income students and lawyers could really smooth the transition into practice.  

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10 minutes ago, realpseudonym said:

I wasn't surprised by salary expectations. If there were surprises early on, it was that certain parts of the profession, particularly the law society, don't make it financially easier for articling students and new calls in lower paying roles.

I'm a little frustrated that we don't have a more progressive fee system. I went into lower paying roles for ideological and personal reasons. That was my choice. I know I have to take the economic consequences of my decision. But, those licensing fees and bar material costs were significant for me, as a licensing candidate. The annual fees are a little more manageable this year. Still, larger firms with wealthy institutional clients and established lawyers could absorb slightly higher fees relatively easily. Students and new calls with legal aid and people-facing practices. It is what it is, but a reduction of fees for lower income students and lawyers could really smooth the transition into practice.  

Or an all around reduction of fees. We pay 10x what lawyers pay in New York.

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2 hours ago, levin said:

how much did you spend on your non-law education, though?

is this really all i'm gonna get for sacrificing up to $100k and three years of my life? i'd be ok with that if law school charged regular graduate school fees, not ~$100k. when i first came to this board i was shocked to read that some law students are even willing to article for free, that one should feel lucky to get anything at all, the justification being that you are still technically 'a student' and the market is dire. i was expecting rosier outcomes tbh 

 

just my opinion but I kind of disagree with this. lets say you make 50k$ a year before law school, your total cost for attending is 100k+50k(3) = 250k. Lets say worst case scenario, you would make a horrible lawyer and you can't even pass the bar exam and you aren't interested in working as a lawyer because you are so lazy that you just give up. It will still help you find a better job. If you live for another 25 years all you really need is to make an additional 10k/year from your law degree extra to break even. This is the absolutely worst case scenario and its still not the end of the world.

the problem isn't that a law degree isn't worth it, the problem is that you have to take a loan and pay interest (not everybody has to do this)

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13 minutes ago, ihatesuits777 said:

just my opinion but I kind of disagree with this. lets say you make 50k$ a year before law school, your total cost for attending is 100k+50k(3) = 250k. Lets say worst case scenario, you would make a horrible lawyer and you can't even pass the bar exam and you aren't interested in working as a lawyer because you are so lazy that you just give up. It will still help you find a better job. If you live for another 25 years all you really need is to make an additional 10k/year from your law degree extra to break even. This is the absolutely worst case scenario and its still not the end of the world.

the problem isn't that a law degree isn't worth it, the problem is that you have to take a loan and pay interest (not everybody has to do this)

It's really obvious from this post that you are a 0L.

Edited by CleanHands

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Just now, CleanHands said:

It's really obvious you are a 0L from this post.

ofc I am, I am also probably wrong but can you explain me why please (genuinely would love to know how your opinion changed after graduating)

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