Tom Mighell made an impassioned case last night at the Ignite Law 2010 conference for better practice management instruction at law schools, and it strikes me that the topic has particular resonance now that the structure of the profession and the underlying business models are undergoing fundamental changes.
Given the scarcity of jobs at established firms and the related rise of solo, networked & virtual gigs, young lawyers need to be prepared to make their own way as soon as they get their diploma. Even young associates at traditional firms, who couldn’t count on mentoring even in the best of times, cannot now expect to learn about the complexities and implications of alternative fee arrangements when the partners are grappling with the issue themselves.
While practice management education was not its focus, a recent post by David Koller on the Small Firm Business blog makes the point clearly that the “business” of law is a glaring gap in legal education. Koller’s is a great first person entrepreneurial success story, but it demonstrates the signifcant challenges lawyers face if they do not have a grounding in marketing, cash flow planning, accounting and all the other hidden joys of running a law firm profitably.
While some commentators on the #ignitelaw Twitter thread seemed to fret that law schools might need to be lobbied/pressured into incorporating practice management into the curriculum, it seems to me like a tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurial and innovative law schools to further differentiate themselves and attract top candidates.
How better to enhance a school’s job placement story than with a strong platform for supporting and encouraging your graduates’ entrepreneurialism?
Of course, that’s going to take a while. In the meantime, there’s great info for autodidacts on sites like Jeff Krause’s Practice Management Blog.
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