Minnesota Lawyer recently launched JDs Rising, a new blog targeted at lawyers who are just entering the profession. One of the bloggers, Daniel Koewler, blogged hereabout how the law schools in Minnesota have failed to teach their students marketing. Those who follow our Mentor Externship and have seen our curriculum know that University of St. Thomas School of Law is introducing these practice concepts during law school. In our 2L mentor curriculum we teach a class on networking and in our 3L curriculum we teach a class on marketing and business generation.
I agree with Mr. Koewler’s larger point, seconded here, that the traditional law school curriculum is not focused on practice orientated skills that many lawyers need. In designing the Mentor Externship curriculum we tried to pay close attention to those skills, as identified by practicing lawyers, and introducing them to law students.
A related challenge, though, is how to get students to understand the necessity of these topics when they haven’t yet begun practicing law. Mr. Koewler has been practicing law three years so he knows how much time is invested in marketing and business generation. However, how many of us had any inclination that those topics were important while we were in law school?
One way we try to emphasize the importance of these topics is having our mentors in the program talking to students about practice orientated skills, including marketing. Still, many of those practice orientated skills seem “obvious” or less important than the other parts of law school. It can be challenging to create student engagement on these topics because many assume that once you get a job the legal work will follow. Based on the feedback we get from our mentors we are confident that these are skills and concepts that will help students excel. The bloggers at JDs Rising and Lawyerist seem to support that conclusion as well. What are your thoughts on how to better convey their importance to a new professional who has not yet practiced?