Students readying themselves for law careers should take time to set books aside and gain practical work experience while in school, according to a survey of 350 U.S. and Canadian lawyers by Robert Half Legal, a premier legal staffing and consulting services firm.
Lawyers were asked, “What, if anything, do you wish you had learned in law school that would have better prepared you to practice law?” Among their responses:
“More mock court. Allow students to practice practicing law.”
“A work-related internship, practical courses and more work study.”
“I wish I would have had a better idea of how the practice of law really is.”
“Less theory, more practical skills.”
“Taking a business or math course.”
“Marketing skills as it relates to the practice.”
“I should have taken a course in accounting or statistics.”
“The whole concept of billing.”
“Economics of business of running a law firm. Client development.”
“Persuasive skills in talking to clients.”
“More technology. A better way to market myself to prospective employers.”
“Workplace-ready lawyers who can make immediate contributions to legal organizations are in high demand in today’s competitive business environment,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “To be successful in future associate roles, students should gain real-world experience through internships and pro bono projects while pursuing their juris doctor degrees.”
Interpersonal skills also were cited by lawyers as essential for legal practitioners. Responses include:
“How to manage people.”
“Better time management.”
“More time for networking with peers.”
“I wish that I had taken more typing classes.”
“Communication skills, the ability to understand the problem thoroughly.”
“Team building. I wish they spent more time on this skill.”
“I wish I would have learned to listen more. A federal job has taught me this.”
Finally, one lawyer cited what might be a universal lesson acquired in the work world: “humility.”
About Guest Author Robert Half Legal
Robert Half Legal is the legal staffing and consulting services division of Robert Half. A premier legal employment agency, Robert Half Legal provides highly skilled legal professionals for law firms and corporate legal departments on a temporary, project and full-time basis. With North American and global locations, the company offers a full suite of legal staffing and consulting services to help organizations manage constantly changing workloads and access expertise across in-demand legal practice areas.
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