Everyone Has a Role to Play in Improving Legal Education

As law schools across the country strive to produce lawyers who can hit the ground running—and as we gear up to launch our Foundations for Practice findings—Alli Gerkman, Director of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, has been hitting the road around the country to explain how legal educators and employers can work together to shape the future of legal education.

Recently, on June 10, Gerkman delivered the keynote address at the Third National Symposium on Experiential Learning in Law hosted by New York Law School. In her address, Gerkman highlighted the preliminary results of our Foundations for Practice survey, garnering responses from more than 24,000 lawyers nationwide who weighed in on the skills, qualities, and characteristics that new lawyers need to succeed in practice. The results of the survey, according to Gerkman, have the potential to redefine the way educators prepare law students for life after graduation, and alter the way legal employers hire new associates.

And, on June 24, Gerkman was back on the road at the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Annual Convention, delivering a luncheon address about the impact the survey and findings could have on the law school experience and the legal job marketplace.

With the release of the Foundations for Practice results on the horizon, Gerkman stressed that legal educators and members of the profession—including, notably, legal employers—have a role to play in improving legal education. Law schools should educate lawyers with the foundations the profession has said are necessary and, in turn, legal employers must hire new lawyers based on the foundations they have said they need in new lawyers.

By understanding the needs of the profession, law schools will have new tools and strategies to educate students to meet those needs and help their graduates succeed.

Mark Staines is a second-year law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and contributes to IAALS Online. Please direct inquiries about this post to iaals@du.edu.