May 24, 2013

No Work Experience = No Job

The hard truth...

And as I said on the Huffington Post here:
Seven years ago I entered law school and five years later I left law school jobless. I also left law school without a day of practical experience; without an ounce of interview experience or even the faintest idea of what it was actually like to practice law. 
I did have a fair bit of theory. Not that that mattered for much; for employers wanted practical experience.
Awfully circular and very chicken and the egg. Couldn't get a job because I didn't have experience; but I couldn't get experience because my alma mater (Queen's University Belfast) didn't supply work experience or include it in the curriculum; and because I didn't know anyone who could otherwise get me in somewhere.

Debate on the 'theory heavy, practice light/non-existent' nature of law school can be read here. Also an interesting academic paper, 'The Integrated Law School Practicuum: Synergising Theory and Practice' can be read here.

It also doesn't help that law schools have been producing too many lawyers (Slate Magazine analysis). Krishnan Nair provides a good breakdown here and in an excerpt below:
'Here are a couple of facts that are worth highlighting: in 2009-10 there were 11,370 full-time and 3,140 part-time LPC places compared to just 4,874 newly registered training contracts. That’s a surplus of 9,636 students, ie the majority of LPC students. This is a problem, made continually worse by ever-changing (typically declining) trainee requirements in the market. It needs to be fixed. But where does the buck stop – Legal Practice Course provider, student, or the Solicitors Regulation Authority?'
Though the Wall Street Journal reported here that a trend for more practical-based learning may be emerging.
'New York Law School hired 15 new faculty members over the past two years, many directly from the ranks of working lawyers, to teach skills in negotiation, counseling and fact investigation. The school says it normally hires one or two new faculty a year, and usually those focused on legal research.'

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