Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What Makes a Successful Lawyer from the ADR Professor Blog

I’ve blogged before about the ADR Prof Blog and especially about the provocative suggestions posted there about the future of the legal profession.

Here is another interesting blog, this time about an article by Bill Henderson, Professor of Law and Harry T. Ice Faculty Fellow at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University at Bloomington Henderson has produced a paper based on empirical studies he has done entitled An Empirical Analysis of Lateral Lawyer Trends from 2000 to 2007: The Emerging Equilibrium for Corporate Law Firms in which he and others have researched what makes a successful lawyer.

Here is what Paul Kirgis has to say in his blog about Henderson’s research and conclusions:

His basic point is that the things law schools measure in making admissions decisions (LSAT and UGPA) and the things they teach their matriculated students (legal reasoning and doctrine) do not correlate with the attributes required for success as a practicing attorney. He contends that lawyers need to be intelligent, but also “personable, collaborative, entrepreneurial, service oriented, and interested in contributing to the collective welfare of the firm.” He offers data suggesting that high LSATs and UGPAs are not predictors of these talents and restates the familiar criticism that law schools do not teach them. He posits that a new hierarchy of law schools will emerge as a result of an inevitable transition away from the traditional model.

Kirgis is skeptical about the fact and pace of change in the profession, because “institutions do not always do what makes sense, especially when entrenched interests and structural impediments hinder change.” Henderson’s research does back up the themes in Julie Macfarlane’s book The New Lawyer: How Settlement is Transforming the Practice of Law about which I have already blogged.

While I respect Kirgis’ skepticism (how can one not, given our experience with institutions?), this research is one more straw in the wind about the forces changing the nature of the business of law and the education of lawyers.

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