Articles Posted in Inexperienced Young Lawyers

One practical consequence of the big gap between attorneys’ excellent formal schooling and the skills they need to do excellent work for clients:

Attorneys who graduated from law school 4 years ago or less typically lack the skills they need to serve the client independently — i.e., without “supervision”.

Leading law practice consultant Jordan Furlong initiated a discussion in which he asked lawyers who’d begun their careers as law firm associates and who were now partners at law firms or held other responsible law practice roles in companies: “How many months and / or years did it take before you felt like a reasonably competent and confident lawyer?”

Two dozen lawyers went on record and named their firms / organizations:

“The lowest number of years offered was two, the most was ten, but the frequently cited median was five.”

“Only one person said they never felt unready for law practice; everyone else said, essentially, ‘It took me years to feel like I knew what I was doing.'”

This certainly corresponds to my own experience in a large Wall Street firm — and with what I witnessed in a smaller firm on the West Coast after I was fully developed as a lawyer myself and saw others struggling.

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There’s not much in the way of practical how-to instruction for new attorneys. So there’s a big gap between their excellent formal schooling and the skills needed to do excellent work for clients.  

This gap poses two practical consequences:

  1. Attorneys who graduated from law school less than 4 years ago typically lack the skills they need to serve the client independently — i.e., without “supervision”, and  
  2. The presence of junior lawyers on legal teams usually means that the client company pays for what law firms themselves sometimes refer to as their “training”. 

About this “gap”.

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