Law Students

Why Law Students are Learning Business
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Summary: With the difficult legal market, some law schools are offering business training to give extra value.

With the law of compensation, supply and demand, working between a legal market unable to take on too many fresh grads and law schools seeing a subsequent dwindling in enrollment, the natural progression is for competing law schools to rally their efforts and come up with a program that adds more value to a given JD degree. That is why we have seen 107 Brooklyn Law School students return from winter break early last January for a three-day training session to learn accounting principles, reading financial statements, and other business focused activities.


After all, when big firms were asked in questionnaires what they would hope to see in new partners, they emphasized having a sense of how businesses are run. In Cornell’s survey of 124 firms regarding what courses should law students take they listed accounting, financial statement analysis and corporate finance.

Why is this? Now that firms are leaning up and sending what work they can overseas, they are expecting more from the lawyers they take on Traditionally, fresh hires had to learn the business aspect of law on the job, having spent their law school studies preparing for the bar exam.

“You simply can’t be a lawyer at a large firm without grounding in business language and business institutions,” said Cornell’s Professor Stout. “Clients are less patient about paying large bills for associate who are not prepared to add value to a firm’s legal work.”

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Not many law schools have responded to the new demand, as of yet. Teaching vocational work seems beneath the interests of many professors.

But others are on board, such as Michelle M. Harner, who directs a program at the Francis King Carey School of Law at the University of Maryland, and which has had 15 students in their business track program last year, and 25 this year.

“It’s eye-opening for any students who are focusing all their attention on taking courses to get ready to pass the bar exam,” said 26-year-old Brittani N. Gordon, a 3L from Maryland who attended the workshop last fall. “They know they want to practice law, but they really don’t know what kind. So this is a crash course in areas like tax law and real estate transactions that they haven’t been exposed to.”

“Practice-ready efforts are a strong underlying trend,” said Professor Tamanaha of Washington University. “But the best answer may take place in externships, where students get practical experience.”

Whichever the case, nowadays students must go the extra mile and find a bit more value to bring to the table when seeking work at large firms.

News Source: Dealbook


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