I read in today’s National Law Journal that California might, gasp, require lawyers to have practical skills training before they are licensed.
A task force of the State Bar of California has recommended that new attorneys be required to complete at least 15 hours of practical skills training and 50 hours of pro bono service before they are admitted to practice.
If adopted, California would be the first state to mandate real-world training in law schools and the second to require pro bono work of new attorneys. New York was the first state to require pro bono work and a judicial committee in New Jersey has recommended the move.
What is sad is that while a long time coming, what good will it be if we don’t continue to require such skills training once these associates join law firms or hang up their shingle?
Think about it. When the current rainmakers and managing partners were in law school there was no Internet to the degree there is now. No Blackberries. No iPhones. No social media.
There was no such thing as e-discovery. Scanning. Electronic filings.
“Real-world training” is not something you learn once and then you have it.
When I was working at a certain Am-Law 50 firm I put in to attend the Legal Marketing Association‘s annual conference. It was declined because budgets, bla bla, not fair that I go every year. I spoke with the firm-wide managing partner, who supervised our department:
So, this is it. I am as good as you will ever need me? I don’t need any new skills? I don’t need any new knowledge? You don’t need any more out of me than I am giving you?”
Her reply was “Have a great time at the conference.”
“Real-world” training HAS to be continuous. And there is only so much we can do without the support of our firms.
Unfortunately, in the “real-world” legal environment we motivate lawyers by money and hourly requirements.
If the bar associations want to make a real change and investment into the lives and success of our associates (who, by the way, are our future rainmakers and managing partners), then they need to start allowing marketing, business development, technology, and business trainings to be eligible for CLE credits.
They currently require ethics and substance abuse/addictive disorders credits, why not the “business of law” credits?
Until then, these “non-billable” “activities,” that can make or break a law firm’s business model and operations, will continuously be sent to the back burner, or ignored all together.
When you look at the latest AmLaw 100 rankings, you are looking at multi-million and multi-billion dollar a year GLOBAL operations. Yet they are loathe to turn the business operations over to “non-lawyers,” and God-forbid you actually pay them a salary that in on par with what the partners are making.
While I applaud the California Bar Association for taking this baby step, a leap is what we really need.