Antonio de la Esperanza
Junior Associate #9 - Law School vs. Real Life
Legal education in the US is very different to legal education in Spain (I can only speak to those as I have only gone to law school in those places), but the thing they have in common is that you don't go out of law school prepared for the job.
In Spain, education is focused on learning the black-ink of the law, and they don't go much into the reasoning behind such piece of regulation or what consequences it has changing it.
In the US there is this belief that they teach you to think like a lawyer, and it's true. The basis of the legal education is to learn how to analyze and understand the law.
So if one teaches the law and the other one how to analyze it and understand it, how come they don't teach you how to be a lawyer?
This article in AssociatesMind (based on an article from Professor Kathleen Vinson) talk about it very accurately. Go and read it for more explanation on the questions below.
"Law schools don’t cover everything else that comes along with being a lawyer. What to do when a client walks through your door, sits down, and asks for help. How to respond when the client says they have been charged with aggravated assault, or they need a business or formation, or that they want a divorce. Hell, how to even get clients through the door in the first place."
The articles ask several questions that are fundamental to the day to day practice but that are not easy to identify on your first day at work:
Who is the client?
What are the facts?
What are the client’s goals?
What are the legal constraints and opportunities?
What are the ethical and moral constraints?
How do you proceed?
Law school can be very practice-oriented, but you need to receive very specific training in order to be able to learn these things in law school. During my last year in law school in Spain I had a course called Practicum, in which top firm lawyers will come and ask us to solve real life cases with them. That is helpful. That is the way to go. But this needs to happen since year 1 to be prepared when you start having real life situations.
It is also very helpful to have some practice as an intern or a summer associate during law schools. It puts you one step ahead when starting the job and you get a slight advantage into solving this questions.
Just be ready to not be ready.
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