Yes, law schools are now marrying the JD with technology and engineering. I’m even honored to be part of the Advisory board for Suffolk University School of Law’s new Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation. And law schools should be teaching technology. I’ve even gone as far as suggesting they should also be teaching entrepreneurship. I can say, so far the idea has been pretty well received. Let’s see what happens.
But the truth is this heretical idea of teaching technology met with a lot of resistance until the pressure was so great any more resistance seemed futile. No one can deny technology is permeating every aspect of law practice. Failure to teach it at this point is tantamount to sending one out in the ocean with a boat but no oars. You’re not going to get anywhere you want to go and quite possibly you’ll capsize and drown.
But here’s the rub. In the real world of solo practice and BigLaw associates, how far are you going to get without understanding marketing? I can hear all the groans now from those who already feel that legal education has sold out by offering anything remotely related to the business world. I’m not going to offer you anymore opinion, however. I’m going to surprise you with real life.
Do you remember my new friend Sara, the young attorney I met at the Kentucky Bar Association Annual Convention? The one who was professionally adopted by a BigLaw attorney? Well, there is more news to this story. This very large, contemporary Kentucky firm reached out to interview her. And they are actually interested in possibly hiring her on a part time basis to start. However, they made a request of her which makes them either light years ahead of the rest of the (hiring) legal world or it is more common than anyone is willing to admit. As part of the interview process they have asked her to come up with a marketing plan for how she would bring in clients. Let me repeat that. They asked this new attorney barely out of law school to come up with a marketing plan to generate business for her desired practice area – equine law. They want her to be a rainmaker and to be able to create a cogent, cohesive marketing plan she can implement to bring in business and earn her keep.
THIS is the real world.
Mmmmmm. And where was she to learn this? She should have had at least one course in law school teaching her ethical, responsible and effective marketing of legal services. Today, whether a solo practitioner or an associate, everyone must be their own profit center. You can’t be your own profit center if you don’t know how to generate business. And you can’t learn how to generate business if you don’t know what marketing is or its importance to your professional success. The days of putting our professional noses in the air and ignoring the realities are gone.
The days of law schools and the ABA pretending marketing is irrelevant are gone. The future success of law schools turns on their ability to turn out practice ready lawyers. Part of being practice ready is knowing how to build a practice. You can’t successfully build a practice if you don’t know how to market that practice.
If there is a law school out there teaching marketing, please tell me. I’d like to give them a shout out.