NALP (formerly the National Association for Law Placement—the leading research and professional resource on law careers) is convening a series of roundtables to discuss a number of aspects of the future of lawyer training and job development. Each panel is made up of law professors, law school deans, hiring attorneys and associates in a number of different firms and fields. I highly recommend them to all who are considering a career in law. If you want to get a good sense of the current state of legal jobs, legal education and the relations between the two, I’d start with these panels. They are each available as either videos or transcripts, and there are many supporting documents.
According to NALP’s summary, participants
- Concluded that the economic slow-down will have a lasting impact on lawyer hiring and development, including a move away from lock-step lawyer advancement models by many law firms;
- Agreed that beginning on-campus interviewing of second-year law students in August is problematic and that different models should be considered;
- Explored the ways in which the economy and client needs may change traditional law firm leverage models;
- Expressed great interest in development of an apprenticeship model of lawyer training;
- Concurred that commitments to diversity would withstand the impacts of the recession;
- Concluded that increased competition will create new demands for lawyer training; and
- Agreed that where associate retention was once the impetus for lawyer professional development, the new impetus is client retention.
Highlights included a discussion about whether this industry should move to a matching system similar to the one used by medical schools to place graduates in internships, as well as further debate about how moving the OCI process later in the season might work as a practical matter. Panelists also discussed implementing a common offer date. The discussion produced a hopeful consensus that the legal job market will improve for the Class of 2012, but also an agreement that for now, law firms will proceed very conservatively in the hiring arena.
The 4th panel is scheduled for March 2010.