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Tag Archives: law school

Dialogue with the Deans: Legal Education & Diversity

As many current law students and recent graduates know, the legal hiring market has been particularly difficult for the last couple of years and is only slowly rebounding. We see a smaller number of clerkships at large law firms and employers that are more tentative in their hiring practices than they were in the early 2000s. As more law students are having issues finding a job, word has gotten out to potential students, and the number of people applying to law school has declined, nationally.

Dean Eric Janus

Dean Eric Janus

Associate Dean Ed Butterfoss

Associate Dean
Ed Butterfoss

As fewer people apply to law school and local law schools are accepting fewer students, we wanted to know how this is affecting diversity at their schools. In a recent roundtable discussion, leadership from the four Twin Cities law schools discussed practices and policies that they have implemented to address this new normal in legal education and the lack of diversity in the legal profession pipeline.

The roundtable participants – Associate Dean Ed Butterfoss (Hamline University School of Law), Dean Eric Janus (William Mitchell College of Law), Director of Diversity Artika Tyner (University of St. Thomas School of Law) and Dean David Wippman (University of Minnesota Law School) – cited various strategies that laws schools use to try to attract a more diverse pool of J.D. candidates, including scholarships, programs highlighting what makes the Twin Cities great, law school fairs from other regions of the country, and law school prep programs.  Despite these strategies, however, with a reduction in the incoming class size at each school, comes a decrease in the total number of diverse law students entering law school in the Twin Cities.

Employers are also increasingly seeking graduates with practical skills, reports Dean Janus.  Each of William Mitchell, Hamline and St. Thomas have implemented additional curriculum, extern- and internships and certifications aimed at developing skills law students can use to hit the ground running after passing the bar. In addition, the University of Minnesota now offers business development programming, Hamline is hoping to launch a master’s program in the study of law, and law schools offer targeted study groups and academic support for students.

Dean David Wippman

Dean David Wippman

Artika Tyner, Director of Diversity

Artika Tyner
Director of Diversity

Dean Wippman noted that the recent expansion of generally available online courses (a phenomenon also known as “MOOC Mania” for the massive open online courses, often offered free of charge) may also cause law schools to rethink the basic model of legal education, as these courses could cover topics only previously offered by law schools.

Questions from attendees spurred discussion about a recent study by Professors Schultz and Zedeck which challenges the premises underpinning law school admission decisions. Leadership, recruiters and law schools in the local community should think critically about traditional admission, recruitment and hiring models based on the competencies highlighted by this research.

By the Numbers:

Students of color make up 24% of the 2012 class at Minnesota, 19% at Hamline and 13% at each of St. Thomas and William Mitchell.

Do you want to read the results of the Schultz and Zedeck study on what makes a successful lawyer? Find out more information at the link below!

Predicting Effectiveness – Shultz & Zedeck

 
 

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8 Tips for Success in Your First Year of Law School

With the unoffical end of summer gone by, the official beginning of school is here for students all around the country. For many law students entering school, this can be a stressful time. Perhaps you have moved your family across the country, set aside a stable career, or are beginning your 18th first day of school in a row. In any event, you are starting on a journey that is bound to be different than your last endeavor. Law school can take up so much of your time (and money), that we want to make sure that you are equipped with the tools to do it right and find success!

1. Get Organized.

If you aren’t a planner, you need to become one. Organization will be key to reaching your potential in law school and keeping track of classes, assignments, and other appointments will be vital. In the beginning build into your plan that all that you do will take you longer than you can imagine. Some classes will come easier than others but all will require time.

2. Effort now, or pay later.

Unlike what you may have experienced as an undergrad, you cannot wait to study and outline your courses.  If you wait until exam time to figure this out, you will end up paying with your grades. Try different approaches to studying and class preparation, but make sure to not just go with the flow! Find study methods that work best for you and stick to it.  Your new best friends may all love to study together, but make sure not to compromise your success, if that method doesn’t work for you!

3. Gain respect, not friends.

Become involved in activities that you are truly committed to and gain respect from those communities.  While you need to have interests that renew your energy, be strategic about those and ensure that you are professional, even in the school setting. Being connected to your classmates is crucial to finding success after law school.  These are your future colleagues and your reputation is formed now.

4. Treat networking as a course.

The old adage about “it’s about who you know” isn’t completely wrong. Meeting lawyers at events like bar association events gives you the opportunity to build connections with in the legal community who can give you good advice on doing well in law school, getting a job after law school, and succeeding in that position.

5. Focus on your grades.

Seriously. With the current hiring market and the reality that is the new normal in the legal industry of running a firm with fewer attorneys, making sure you are as high in your class as you can be is vital, even if you are in a Top 14 law school.

6. Don’t overjoin.

No matter how many extra-curricular activities you have, being in the bottom half of your class will make it extremely difficult to find employment. Find a few activities that are meaningful and interesting to you and do them well. Signing on to too many activities will not only leave you stressed out, it won’t give you enough time to study or sleep.

7. Visit Career Services.

Prepare your resume and sample cover letters as you would a brief.  Then visit your Career planning office for review and advice on planning your career. The general rule is that Career Services can begin meeting 1L students on November 1. Try to get into their office soon after to start thinking about your plans for next summer! Most legal employers cannot accept your applications or resumes until December 1, but when that rolls around be ready to go!

8. Take some time for yourself.

Take a break! It is important not to lose sight of things that you were interested in before starting law school. Exercise, watch reality TV or your favorite movie, play a mindless video game, or attend the latest play at your local theater. It’s easy to get bogged down in everything that you have to do, but maintaining parts of your life that you enjoyed before law school is important to remaining who you are!

What other tips do you have for incoming 1Ls? Is there anything that worked well for you in your first year?

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in For Students, Tips & Tricks

 

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