What Law Firms Want in New Recruits
Larry Kramer, Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean, is quoted in an article in the New York Law Journal discussing what law firms are looking for when hiring new attorneys and what law schools can do to ensure students develop the desired skills. The New York Law Journal writes:
Another topic on the minds of our respondents is the increasingly global aspect of the legal industry. More than 70 percent of those surveyed think law schools should focus more on transnational studies and offer study-abroad programs.
International law is no longer just about treaties. Lawyers are increasingly called upon to advise businesses, individuals, non-governmental entities and governments in matters that involve parties, laws and decision-makers in two or more countries. Course offerings include transnational issues in art, culture and law; globalization, governance and justice; national security and human rights in transnational and comparative perspective; and international legal institutions.
Recognizing that lawyers must practice law in a global context, the Program in International Law at Stanford Law School focuses students on the interrelationship between international law, business and policy and key areas of change in the global political economy, transnational business environment, and developing international legal structure.
"Where only a tiny number of graduates used to practice law across national borders, today only a tiny number do not," notes Stanford Law Dean Larry Kramer. "International law, particularly the law governing private actors in the international arena, has gone from the periphery to the center, and law schools have been scrambling to adapt."
Our respondents believe that the third year's emphasis should change, though, to more clinical and practical work. That seems to have been part of the motivation behind Stanford's "3D" JD, which allows second- and third-year students to take courses in other disciplines, engage in more team-oriented problem-solving exercises, and pursue expanded clinical opportunities (including litigating cases and representing clients).
To make it easier for students to take outside courses, the law school changed its academic calendar, which had been on the traditional semester system, to the quarter system to match the rest of the university. As stated on the Stanford Web site:
"Although lawyers were historically called upon and trained mainly to identify problems, they are increasingly being called upon to help solve them. To do this, especially in a world where the problems have grown more intricate, lawyers need to understand what their clients do at a much more sophisticated level than can be taught through the existing law school curriculum or in the traditional law school classroom."