Synthesis of Four Empirical Studies on the Values and Skills That Legal Employers and Clients Want
Our success is no accident. We have been intentional in designing our curriculum and culture to respond to the needs of legal employers and clients. Traditionally, law schools have assumed that legal employers want what they are teaching. Instead of making assumptions, we asked legal employers to identify the values and skills they need their lawyers to possess. We analyzed research delineating the skill sets of successful lawyers – lawyers clients want to hire. We have designed our educational program to foster these skills and values, and we consistently measure the progress of our graduates to verify that what we’re doing is working and to determine how we can improve the quality of our educational program to respond to the demands of the marketplace for legal services.
* The studies that form the basis of the grid:
- In May and June, 2012, the fourteen largest Minnesota firms provided Neil W. Hamilton, Interim Dean of the University of St. Thomas School of Law and Director of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions, with their associate evaluation forms. Professor Hamilton’s research assistant, T.J. Lang, tabulated all the capacities and skills the firms are evaulating and grouped them into (1) Character and Commitment, (2) Management of Working Relationships and Self, (3) Communication Skills, (4) Practice Management, (5) Knowledge of Law & Legal Research, and (6) Critical Thinking Skills. In each group, the skills are listed from most frequently to least frequently mentioned. This study is available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2141425
- William Henderson, Professor of Indiana University Maurer School of Law and Director of the Center on the Global Legal Profession, synthesized the results from a survey of Indiana law graduates and senior practicing lawyers of the qualities they are looking for in associates. Based on the results, he gave a presentation to the University of St. Thomas School of Law faculty on February 28, 2011, which is incorporated in the grid, and wrote the Three Generations of U.S. Lawyers: Generalists, Specialists, and Project Managers. This study is available at: http://www.law.umaryland.edu/academics/journals/mdlr/print/articles/70_2_373.pdf
- Marjorie Shultz, Professor of Law at UC Berkeley, and Sheldon Zedeck, Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley, wrote Predicting Lawyer Effectiveness: Broadening the Basis for Law School Admission Decisions, an article which synthesized the responses from 1,105 law alumni of UC Berkeley and UC Hastings ranging from 2 to 35 years of practice to a survey regarding the qualities they would look for in a lawyer. This study is available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1747-4469.2011.01245.x/pdf
- Roy Stuckey, Professor of Clinical Legal Education at the University of South Carolina School of Law, synthesized the results of a survey of clinicians in U.S. law schools in his book, Best Practices for Legal Education (2007).