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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Henderson on Solo and Small Firm Practice

Over at Legal Profession Blog (my home base), Bill Henderson gives his impressions of the solo and small firm practice meeting of the Indiana State Bar Association.

Here's a sample of Bill's take on the relationship of law school education to the "touchstones" of small firm practice:

Indeed, with the large tilt in law schools toward professors with large law firm experience--and virtually all as associates rather than equity partners--it is likely that we law professors undervalue the importance of commonsense and practical judgment in building a successful career.  (How many of us could meet a payroll twice a month?  What a daunting prospect!) Law schools supposedly teach students how to think like a lawyer, but this often takes the form of an appellate lawyer who manipulates the law under a fixed set of facts--with the most proficient having a shot at becoming a law professor. But in my observation, this is a extremely truncated view of how lawyers add value to clients and ultimately earn a living.

As Larry Solum says, check it out!

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw on June 11, 2008 at 07:06 AM in Blogging | Permalink


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Hillel raises a very good point that I am currently grappling with. Anyone with any meaningful expose to the practice of law understands the central importance of "judgment" (PA certainly does); it is just damn hard to define judgment in a way that is objectively defensible.

We can elide this issue by sticking to doctrine; but while making it easy for professors, we thereby give a distorted view of what it means to be a successful lawyer. Over the summer I will have more to say about how we can assess judgment; I think this is worth the effort.

Posted by: Bill Henderson | Jun 12, 2008 10:49:54 AM

Another thing you won't learn in law school is that your clients actually have these things called budgets. In addition to understanding how the accounting works from a law firm's perspective, a more effective attorney also understands his clients business and legal budget, and help advise the client as to how the resources can be allocated in the most effective manner...

Posted by: PA | Jun 12, 2008 8:00:57 AM

I've though about this problem a bit. I wonder: how can one effectively teach judgment in the classroom, and how can one test it? Did law schools ever do this well?

Posted by: Hillel Levin | Jun 11, 2008 2:26:06 PM

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