“How can I get a job if I don’t have any experience?”
That’s the question every young job hunter asks. In a post-crash world – where resources are limited, margins smaller, and clients more demanding – employers want hires who can hit the ground running. They don’t have time to train or write off rookie mistakes as an “investment.” Employers need it faster, cheaper, and better. Most important, they need people who can rack up revenue now.
The same is true of the legal world. Even when law school goes beyond rules and analysis, it’s still a simulation of reality. For most grads, it is a huge leap from theory to practice. Sure, most have held internships. But how much hands-on exposure have students had investigating, interviewing, advising, negotiating, and drafting? And have they mastered make-or-break soft skills like time management, relationship-building, and problem-solving…let alone technology, financials, or even (gasp) sales? What about pro bono legal aid, you say? That helps, but do those experiences really give new grads the business savvy to be relevant, let alone credible? Fact is, many graduates can’t file forms, let alone argue cases. And that puts them behind the paralegals.
So which law schools best prepare students to step in and bring value immediately? This year, U.S. News & World Report released its annual law schools rankings. Along with providing an overall ranking of schools, the magazine also measured schools in specialty areas like providing clinical experience. Unlike its overall ranking, which weighs criteria like placement rates, LSAT scores, and assessments from law school deans, tenured faculty, lawyers and judges, U.S. News calculates its specialty rankings strictly from votes submitted by legal scholars, with each voter able to nominate up to 15 schools. Based on the number of votes cast for particular schools, here is U.S. News’ 2015 ranking of the top 10 law schools for clinical training:
(See following page for Tipping The Scales’ table of the best programs in clinical training)