Click on the following link for a law student – lawyer career planning and development evaluation tool that I put together to help with discussion and thought process. I hope that you find it helpful. Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco).
The Law Student / Lawyer Trail
For people who want to go to law school or who are lawyers, the following is my view of the law student / lawyer trail, or stated differently, the primary steps, time periods and activities in the development of a lawyer.
My list includes 8 primary steps, times and activities. And each step, time or activity will in some manner impact and influence what follows, but not necessarily in an absolute way. The law is a constantly changing environment – for every challenge or change in the law, your practice, or the legal profession different opportunities develop, and people, firms and clients are always looking for better solutions and results or ROI (return on investment). And these steps or processes should be a collaborative endeavor because working in silos makes it more difficult to identify and evaluate the risks/uncertainties, opportunities and solutions, and to achieve the objectives and results.
Of course this list isn’t the be-all and end-all, as obviously the primary steps, times and activities can be expanded and tweaked.
Although step one is extremely important and covers a long period of time and development, and what you do in step one will significantly impact whether you go to law school, which law school, and your path as a lawyer, you will also note that step one is the only step, time or activity that occurs prior to the law school application process.
Thus, a tremendous amount of development occurs or can occur leading up to and at the time of the law school application and thereafter.
Of course each lawyer’s trail will be different and individual, and also in some respects similar, but each of the 8 steps, times and activities requires that you:
(1) Develop or learn, and continually learn or update;
(2) Current qualifications, expertise, experience and interests that are needed and valued in the legal services market and are available for immediate use;
(3) While engaging in effective outreach and personally connecting and appropriately promoting yourself with the right people so that they (1) really get to know you or of you, (2) respect your reputation and what you are doing and can do for them, and (3) think of you as a go-to person and want you to work for them or much better yet they want to work with you.
1. First or step one, the lawyer’s personality, life experiences and education before the law school application process.
2. Second, as a law school applicant, the connection between the applicant and the prospective law schools.
3. Third, law student mentoring and career development during law school.
4. Fourth, law student education, experience, training and qualifications developed during law school including both the academic education and the hands-on practical experience.
5. Fifth, bar passage.
6. Sixth, as a law school graduate/lawyer, the connection between the lawyer and prospective employers and prospective clients, including the market need and pricing for legal services and practice areas.
7. Seventh, alumni/lawyer mentoring, career development and connecting after law school.
8. And eighth, the lawyer’s ongoing continuing education, professional and life experiences, relationships, training and qualifications throughout the lawyer’s career.
Each one of these steps, times and activities is important and will impact development and opportunities, happiness and satisfaction: because there are different and better opportunities available for you; changes do occur in the law and legal services marketplace; sometimes people decide that they no longer want to work with you; sometimes you decide that you no longer want to work with certain people; and sometimes you just want to do something different.
Thanks for listening.
Should law schools operate or be associated with law firms or clinics or residencies for graduate lawyers?
Call it what you like, a law firm, or a law clinic, or a residency, but should law schools operate or be associated with (like a captive) a law practice for its law school graduates? For ease of reference I will refer to the entity as a law firm. I have read that a few law schools have formed or are forming a law firm for their graduates. Please also refer to my prior April 30 blog post for additional links on this topic.
Assuming that the formation of such an entity is legally permissible within the school’s state of location, and I am not aware why it couldn’t be permissible for example in California, forming such an entity of coursed would be a significant decision presenting a whole host of questions, issues and opportunities.
I am assuming that the entity would be structured as a legal law firm entity entirely separate from the law school. I am also assuming that the firm needs to be run profitably and like a business, similar in many regards to the typical law business.
I am also assuming that the firm hires graduates of the law school who have passed the bar exam.
The questions or issues are too numerous to list, but here are a few that come to mind immediately – and of course each of these questions can be expanded upon.
-How to structure and operate the firm and its work so that the firm and its attorneys are known for excellent and professional legal work and advocacy. The firm is a reflection on the firm itself, its lawyers and the law school.
-What practice areas will the firm handle?
-And related to which practice areas the firm will handle, from where will the firm get cases and work? Also consider, for example, in the nonprofit area there is a movement for collaboration relationships between nonprofits and businesses or other entities. With open thinking, there could be interesting opportunities here.
-What billing rates or terms?
-What size of cases – big, small, etc.
-Will the firm be in competition with other law firms and lawyers?
-Where will the firm be located?
-In which venues will the firm accept cases and work?
-How much infrastructure does the firm need including for example equipment, software, support staff, billing, etc.
-How much seed money is needed to start the firm?
-Financially, how much money is needed to operate and sustain the firm?
-How much will the associate attorneys be paid, with benefits?
-How many experienced attorneys are needed to run the operation, who, and how will they be paid?
-Which associate attorneys will be hired, and what criteria? Ideally, the law school will be satisfied that every JD graduate from the law school upon graduation (and passing the bar) has sufficient knowledge, skill and other qualifications for her or him to be a qualified associate attorney candidate for hire.
-How long can an associate attorney work for the firm?
-What if an associate attorney isn’t working out?
-What if the legal work fluctuates at the firm – what to do with excess associates?
-What if more attorneys want to work for the firm than there are positions available?
-Within the firm’s areas of practice, in which areas will an associate work, or in all areas?
-What if an associate becomes disgruntled?
-How will US News view or evaluate the firm and its hiring of graduates? Think what you want about US News and its rankings, but they exist and need to be considered.
-And the list goes on of course.
Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco)