The Australian – Legal Week 23-27 May 2016
The following is an excerpt of the article appearing in The Australian by Katherine Towers. For the full article, please click on the link below:
Law graduates not keeping up with the modern world
University law schools are not adequately preparing students for the realities of the modern legal profession, with graduates holding distorted expectations about job prospects and the contemporary role of lawyers, industry leaders say.
Speaking at a round table for the launch of The Australian’s inaugural Legal Week, the heads of some of Australia’s biggest law firms have warned that the explosion in the number of law schools across the country has led to a glut in graduates.
And industry leaders from King & Wood Mallesons, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Thomson Geer and Norton Rose Fulbright warned that those who wanted to follow a traditional law path often had unrealistic expectations.
Many universities were churning out graduates with an old-fashioned view of what lawyers did and who wrongly assumed that with good marks they simply could walk into a well-paying job in a top law firm, they said.
Graduates were not being prepared for the scarcity of jobs, working in team environments or how to develop and expand corporate relationships, which was the core of most legal businesses.
“Research shows there’s more traditionalism among law graduates than in 50-year-old partners, which is ironic,” Corrs Chambers Westgarth chief executive John Denton said.
King & Wood Mallesons managing partner (clients) Sharon Cook said many law schools were narrowly focused on the black letter of the law, which was only one of the many skills needed by a modern lawyer.
“Some (law schools) are just proceeding in the way they did 30 years ago,” she said.
Although law firms still wanted technically excellent lawyers, they also needed graduates who had vision, a broader view of business, technological forethought and the ability to work with others.
Norton Rose Fulbright managing partner Wayne Spanner said law schools were not adequately preparing graduates for the disappointing legal job market.
“Technical skills are not (enough). They have to be able to display uniqueness in what they deliver and to be able to relate to the culture of the business,” Mr Spanner said.
Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s Mr Denton agreed, saying most of the big law firms were looking for distinctiveness, generosity and exceptionalism in their graduates, and for those “who were up for being disrupters”.
Freedom Law’s perspective
As a specialist firm dealing in what is almost universally the most challenging event in anyone’s life – relationship breakdown – we seek out and accumulate legal and paralegal staff with exceptional interpersonal skills as paramount in the skill set expected of our teams.
It is not enough to know family law inside and out – to be a successful family lawyer or paralegal the key skills required are empathy, listening to understand what a client’s true needs and interests are, and communicating to a client in the way that they will hear and understand no matter what path they have walked during their life.
At Freedom Law, we walk the path of winding up a relationship with our clients, until they are free of unresolved issues and can move forward with their lives.