June 5, 2014

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Industry Outlook: Legal

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Industry Outlook: Legal

June 5, 2014

BARKER: We’re mixed. Utah’s a great place to be tied locally, really. We try to mix that and cover our risk, but we’re still primarily locally tied.

ANDERSON: About 80 percent of my litigation is out of state, in terms of what I’m handling personally. We’re in the process of opening another office in another state. This will be the second time I’ve opened an office in another state and had a significant amount of business come from out of state. But the base has been Utah, and the work stays here and is done from here.

POS: We’re still feeling the effects from the post-recession, where there was a lot of law firm consolidation going on, clients consolidating the number of law firms. So as a result, we have regional and national clients that we didn’t have five years ago that have become substantial clients. So we find ourselves based in Utah, but our lawyers are working outside of Utah.

 

If you had the attention of law school deans, what would you recommend in order to better prepare law school graduates?

MAXWELL: One thing that would probably be healthy is to reduce the class size a little bit. That’s a challenge. You have a lot of folks out there who graduate, and they don’t have a job. They hang up a shingle, and the challenge is they don’t have a mentoring relationship that happens in the law firms. Whether it’s a small law firm or a large law firm, you generally get a lot of good mentoring. And when you just come right out of law school and hang up a shingle, you’re missing that. And that’s a challenge when you have large law school classes graduate without the economic opportunity.

LORIMER: I would tell the deans that they need more practical coursework in terms of the nuts and bolts of the everyday practice of law. You talk to recent graduates about a problem, and they solve it theoretically, but they completely miss some practical issue. If students had more coursework that was less text-oriented and more practice-oriented, it would make a big difference in their success.

MORSE: Overall, the education needs to be revamped to be more reality-based. These very young people are coming out not knowing anything about the practice, really not knowing anything about the business of law. They don’t know how law firms operate. They don’t know the economics of law firms. They don’t know their way around a courtroom. They need more clinical experience.

LARSON: I agree with the comments about the necessity of understanding the business side of law. We have experienced that with our own associates and young shareholders, so we’re starting to include some of that instruction in our associate development programs.

CLINGER: It’s interesting when you compare law school to medical school or dental school. In all the other professions, they have practical experience. In law school, we do not. So I believe that law school should be not reduced to two years, but three years or maybe even four years where the last two years are hands-on, practical, clinical experience. Several law schools throughout the nation have those clinicals in regard to litigation as well as transactional work.

The Utah State Bar several years ago instituted a mentoring program, which I had the opportunity to be part of that committee. That is a great program and we need to advocate that more with our associates—getting involved with the mentoring program, both in large law firms as well as helping those who are hanging their shingles.

GAYLORD: The one thing I’ve noticed with many associates is technology is a burden and a curse. A lot of the students now going to law school, they don’t have the benefit of pulling a book off the table and sitting down and reading. Instead, what they’re doing is a quick search, pulling up a case and saying, “Oh, I’ve got the perfect answer.”

Law school needs to go back to its own roots in teaching the research capabilities, because many law students coming out just want to find the answer quick instead of thinking about the issue and addressing the issue. I’m not critical of them, but it’s this idea that we all need an answer today, so we go and find the quickest answer we can get.

BATEMAN: They ought to bring in more adjuncts, because we’re asking the students to be taught more practical experience. But quite honestly, if you look at most of the law professors, an awful lot of them had very little practical experience before jumping to the ivory tower.

JENSEN: I do have one specific suggestion if I were talking to the deans, and that is figure out a way to get practical experience on the transactional side. It’s easy enough for them to say, “Go write a brief, go research it, go work with the Legal Aid Society, clerk with a judge on an internship.” All of those are research brief-related. They do a great job of teaching those things and it’s relatively easy to get practical experience on those.

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