Need Your Help. Please Answer One Question For Me.

A friend of mine, Jay Foonberg, is writing the sixth edition of his book on helping solos.  He asked if I would reach out and ask you directly if you would be so kind as to answer one question:

If there was just one course you wish you had taken prior to law school that would ultimately have helped you now that you are practicing law, what would it be?

It can be anything – Chinese, knitting, acting, juggling.

I, for one, wished I had taken a course on cultural diversity and kept up on my French and German.

You can simply put your answer in the comments or if you received this post in your inbox,  just hit ‘reply’ with your answer.  Or course, answering in the comments section is great because a conversation as to the ‘why’ is always beneficial for everyone reading the post.

Much appreciated.

Susan

 

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53 comments on “Need Your Help. Please Answer One Question For Me.

  • Aside from Spanish, some type of small business/entrepreneur class covering basic accounting, marketing, etc. for a law practice. We forget that a firm is still a business and needs to run that way to survive. I have read everything on it since going solo (including Jay’s excellent work) but it would have been nice to have had a practical course as an option. It’s my understanding that many law schools are now offering something along those lines.

  • Basic bookkeeping and how to read a tax return. It would be a perfectly respectable law school course, even. They could call it “advanced financial literacy” so as not to make the folks who feel like this is a problem they’ll never have feel less testy about it.

  • I was in Law School so long ago I cannot remember the courses I took, but in working with a lot of newer attorneys the one thing I hear so often is: “why didn’t they teach us how to run a law business. With so many new lawyers not able to find employment and setting up their own business (yes it is a business) they need to be taught this and also how to effectively market to get clients.

    • I have to agree, the one course that would have helped is one on running a law office, included in that is the logistics of filing court documents. I know a paralegal does this, but as a new start up, I didn’t have one.

      Thank you,

    • I think this is right up there with financial literacy! I never see courses like this offered and it should start in grammar school. How can you run a business if you don’t have a clue about handling finances?

  • Actually taking the time to learn the second language I took all of the classes for would have been wise.

    Also, as a side note, courses that I did take that I am very glad I did were web and graphic design courses.

  • My school has a Law Practice Management course designed for those who intend to go into solo or small practice. Unfortunately, the class size was VERY limited.

    • When I taught this course, I had to limit it but we kept bursting at the seams at 30 and there was a waiting list. This should have spoken volumes to the administration. Instead, they cancelled the course!

  • I can’t narrow it down to just one since law school was a complete waste of time. Business is the first category I thought of. That includes everything from accounting, billing, marketing, customer satisfaction…everything. Spanish or other language would be important. Also, there was next to no practical courses for practicing. Paralegals knew more than me about practicing law when I graduated, which is crazy. In essence, the law school system needs to be trashed so we can start from scratch.

    • Rob, you’d be surprised how many lawyers wish they had taken acting classes. For me it’s right up there with football players who take ballet! If you have to ‘perform’ in front of a jury and judge, you best know how to.

  • That’s simple… business management. While we may have some courses before we’re allowed to practise on our own account here in South Africa, none of it actually prepares you for the real world.

  • I would have majored in Spanish as an undergrad, rather than getting a useless International Affairs degree.

  • I have a business degree so I am able to handle financials and running the firm with no problem. I wish I had taken some Spanish classes. I have numerous potential clients call who don’t understand English very well. The French classes I took in high school aren’t very useful.

  • Clinics which give you experience in court I think are essential. but a course never offered in law school is how to make a living in the law. Law school teaches you the law but not how to make a living. How to network and secure clients, deal with clients, getting paid. Most Law school professors are ill equipped to teach this. Maybe it is too early in one’s career to focus on this but a primer would be helpful.

  • Marketing–or rainmaking as it was once called. Law school begins you on the path to quality lawyering but provides no clue about the importance of building a client base and sustaining it to be successful in a typical law practice. I’ve heard Jay speak before and he covers this topic well in many of his presentations. However, with the digital world, marketing and its evolving iterations should not be ignored.

    • Lauren, it can’t be ignored. The necessity will always be there. The delivery is what will be ever-changing and many lawyers are frightened, not about the change, but the process of change and their inability to comprehend it. I’ve seen many businesses go out (not just legal) for this very reason.

  • Spanish. I recently moved to an area with a lot of Spanish speaking people. There’s a very large client-base that I’m missing out on simply because I don’t make quite enough yet to hire a translator.

    • It’s worth it to take a local business course for this reason alone. Many communities offer basic classes in their community adult education departments. You may not have gotten it in law school but no reason it has to stop you, right?

  • I would have taken marketing and business/management classes, which are the practical building blocks to a successful practice (whether you are firm-bound or a solo practitioner).

    • Exactly, Johnna. Whether firm-bound or solo, you need to understand how to be your own profit center. If firm bound, you are an asset. If you are forced out, you can hit the ground running.

  • The one course I would have taken was “the business of law” meaning marketing, keeping the books, understanding financial statements and managing cash flow. Although I am not a sole practitioner, I believe this essential program would give grounding to those in law school who dream of big salaries and short hours!

  • Strategic planning. Too many attorneys are unable to “begin with the end in mind” with respect to their (i) practice/law firm, (ii) litigation and (iii) general client advice/counsel.

  • Second and/or third languages and studying abroad as an intern = international options as a job candidate and fulfilling my childhood dreams.

  • As many business courses as possible. Many lawyer’s believe they are doing God’s work but, for those in private practice, if the income does not exceed the cash outflow, good luck in carrying on that work for any length of time. Understanding that law is a business will help the attorney understand why s/he must prioritize the unenviable tasks of timekeeping, bill preparation and collections.

  • I would recommend a course called “Lawyer Malpractice: How NOT to Practice Law”.

    I taught this course for 23 years to advanced law students at Hofstra University Law School. A former student from 1991 called me just yesterday looking for a legal malpractice expert and to say thank you for having served her well.

    All our courses tell us what to do. That doesn’t cover what NOT to do.

    My 2 cents.

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