Law School Lament: Attorneys Reveal What They Wish They’d Learned in Law School

Attorneys Wish They Had Learned

Many law school students are back on campus and already hitting the books. A new study by Robert Half Legal emphasizes the importance of taking time to set those books aside and gain some practical work experience while in school. 

Lawyers were asked, "What, if anything, do you wish you had learned in law school that would have better prepared you to practice law?"

Some of their verbatim 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."
"Securing retainers."
"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."
"Mediation skills."

(Source: Robert Half Legal survey of 350 lawyers with the largest law firms and companies in the United States and Canada)

Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal, observed: "Workplace-ready lawyers who can make immediate contributions to legal organizations are in high demand in today's competitive business environment. 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."

Lawyers surveyed also cited interpersonal skills as essential for legal practitioners. Responses included:

"How to manage people."
"Better time management."
"Negotiation skills."
"More time for networking with peers."
"Public speaking."
"More writing."
"I wish that I had taken more typing classes."
"Communication skills, the ability to understand the problem thoroughly."
"Collaboration skills."
"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."

What do you wish you’d learned in law school that would have better prepared you to practice law? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Tags: law school