Remember the first decade of this millennium? Back then, a law degree almost assured status and wealth. These days, the job market has dried so much that earning a J.D. has become a way to ensure debt and uncertainty. This is the crazy world that we live in.
Nevertheless, many in the legal education are starting to think outside of the box to save the profession. This week, attorney and entrepreneur, Jaia Thomas weighed in on why law schools should begin teaching entrepreneurship.
According to Thomas, out of the 1,281,432 attorneys currently in America, 470,926 of them are already entrepreneurs. However, she did not divulge what exactly an “entrepreneur” means in this case. Regardless, the National Association of Law Placement says the number of attorneys going into solo practice continues to increase each year.
Besides those stats, Thomas has other arguments for teaching entrepreneurship in law school. First, running a business—especially a legal practice—is tough and complicated. There are many moving pieces to running your own legal business. There’s the business side that includes accounting, marketing and administrative services. Then there is also the legal side of advising, counseling and litigating.
Additionally, some law schools already have courses that could easily be replaced by courses revolving around entrepreneurship or business. The example Thomas gives is at her alma mater, George Washington University, where they have an Atomic Energy Law course. How many students are going to go into atomic energy law compared to starting a solo practice?
Finally, many top law schools are located at the same universities that house some of the best business schools in the world and already have joint JD-MBA programs. Some examples are Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School and Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Even schools like Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Washington in Seattle have top law and business programs and could create partnerships.
Some law schools and state bars are already offering their own entrepreneurial courses and workshops. The University of Missouri-Kansas City has two entrepreneurial law courses. Marquette University has one. The Washington D.C. Bar Association offers a two-day workshop that goes through the essentials of starting a legal practice.
This seems to be a plausible and simple shift law schools can make to be more attractive to applicants and fringe-applicants.
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