Foundations for Practice: The Whole Lawyer and the Character Quotient

Click here to read the report online.

This is the lead report in a series of reports that explore the results of the Foundations for Practice survey.

The Foundations for Practice survey was designed to clarify the legal skills, professional competencies, and characteristics that make lawyers successful. More than 24,000 lawyers in all 50 states from a range of backgrounds and practice settings answered. Their answers are illuminating and pose opportunities and challenges to the schools that educate lawyers and the employers that ultimately hire them.

First, new lawyers need character. In fact, 76% of characteristics (things like integrity, work ethic, common sense, and resilience) were identified by a majority of respondents as necessary right out of law school. When we talk about what makes people—not just lawyers— successful we have come to accept that they require some threshold intelligence quotient (IQ) and, in more recent years, that they also require a favorable emotional intelligence (EQ). Our findings suggest that lawyers also require some level of character quotient (CQ).

Second, successful entry-level lawyers are not merely legal technicians, nor are they merely cognitive powerhouses. The current dichotomous debate that places “law school as trade school” up against “law school as intellectual endeavor” is missing the sweet spot and the vision of what legal education could be and what type of lawyers it should be producing. New lawyers need some legal skills and require intelligence, but they are successful when they come to the job with a much broader blend of legal skills, professional competencies, and characteristics that comprise the whole lawyer.

The survey results provide a starting point for law schools and the profession to work together to develop models for educating tomorrow’s lawyers.

Authored By 
Director, Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers
Senior Research Analyst
Supplements 
Publication Series 
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