Design Your Own Law School? Why Not!, 0217 COBJ, Vol. 46 No. 2 Pg. 65

Author:Nancy E. Rice, J.

46 Colo.Law. 65

Design Your Own Law School? Why Not!

Vol. 46, No. 2 [Page 65]

The Colorado Lawyer

February, 2017

The Chief’s Corner

Nancy E. Rice, J.

If you were to design a law school today, without any restrictions, what would it look like? How would you ensure that the students were truly prepared to practice law when they graduate? Should a law school teach subjects like client interaction, business management, billing and professionalism? Or. is preparing students to practice not the proper role of a law school? Maybe law schools should only focus only on whether the falling scale in Palsgraf was foreseeable! I was curious to hear what leaders in our profession thought about this subject, so I asked.

When I became the Chief Justice, I took over the Chiefs Commission on the Legal Profession from former Chief Justice Bender. The Commission is a collection of talented leaders who work to make our profession better. The collective brainpower and dedication of this group is truly incredible. At a previous Chiefs Commission meeting, Alli Gerkman, director of the Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers Initiative at the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS), presented preliminary results from IAALS 's Foundations for Practice survey.[1] The survey was distributed to lawyers in 37 states and generated responses from more than 24,000 lawyers across the country. The responses showed that the skills practicing attorneys believe are necessary for new attorneys are not always the same skills being taught in law schools. The results showed that some of the most important skills for new attorneys to have upon graduation are characteristics such as integrity, resilience, work ethic, and attention to detail.[2] The survey also showed that practical experience and practitioner recommendations were more important in new attorney hiring decisions than journal experience, class rank, and (gasp!) clerkships.[3]

Given the survey results, I wanted to challenge the Chiefs Commission to come up with a model for a new law school. At the last Chiefs Commission meeting, we separated into small groups and had an hour to design a new law school. The groups...

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