The law firm of White & Case announced yesterday that they are teaming up with Indian law school, Jindal Global School to provide for Executive training as well as Continuing Legal Education training. The amount of involvement from White & Case lawyers appears to be pretty significant, as they will also arrange for visiting and adjunct professors, as well as setting up interactions between the firm’s lawyers and JGS’s law students and faculty including internships, conferences and seminars.

This is quite a bold move on White & Cases’ part, and one that seems to be ripe for the undertaking. In reading the press release, it made me wonder if any law firms in the US were so closely involved with a specific US law school. I’m assuming, no, and thinking that there may be ethical rules of such tight integration of a law firm and a law school (I could be wrong on this, so feel free to tell me so.)

It would be interesting to see if this same type of agreement between a major law firm and a US law school could work. It would certainly shake things up a bit in the old Socratic Method teaching style and expose students that would never get a chance to be a Summer Associate for a major law firm to get a peek inside the way it operates, and what it expects from its attorneys. It might be of even greater importance as the numbers of incoming associates (both Summer and Fall) shrink for this lost generation of law students. Perhaps it would also expose both the firm and the school to new ideas on how to better train students for the profession. Unfortunately, the next opportunity to test this type of collaboration will probably come when another firm makes an agreement with a Chinese law school.

Here’s the press release from White & Case:

New York and Sonipat, Haryana, India May 23, 2011 … Global law firm White & Case LLP and Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) of O.P. Jindal Global University have signed an agreement to develop executive and continuing legal education programs. The agreement, a first between a major US law firm and an Indian law school, calls for visiting faculty arrangements, adjunct professorships, joint conferences and seminars and internships for JGLS students.

“Our collaboration with JGLS is part of the Firm’s long-term commitment to India,” said Hugh Verrier, chairman of White & Case. “Our association with this pioneering global law school will help prepare a new generation of lawyers who can operate effectively in a globalized world.”

“With a very active cross-border India practice, White & Case recognizes the huge role India plays in the global economy,” said Nandan Nelivigi, a partner with White & Case and head of the Firm’s India Practice. “Teaming up with one of the best law schools in India will allow the Firm, through its social responsibility initiative, to make contributions to the further strengthening of India’s legal education system and its legal profession.”

“The agreement with White & Case marks a historic opportunity underscoring the importance of globalization of legal education and the legal profession in India,” said Professor C. Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University and Dean of Jindal Global Law School. “This collaboration will provide impetus to raising the quality of legal education in India that will transcend jurisdiction-based learning, but also more importantly, help India develop legal knowledge across different sectors.”
About JGLS

JGLS is committed to promoting global legal education through global courses, global curriculum, global programs, global research, and global interaction through a global faculty. It offers a range of full time degree programs – five year B.A. LL.B. (Hons.); three year LL.B., and LL.M. programs with particular specialization in corporate and financial law, international trade law and intellectual property rights. JGLS has established eleven research centers, including a Michigan-Jindal Centre for Global Corporate and Financial Law and Policy jointly instituted with the University of Michigan Law School. In a short span of time, JGLS has established a global reputation due to its extraordinarily qualified faculty members recruited from around the world. JGLS has established international collaborations with Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, Columbia Law School, Cornell Law School, New York University School of Law and Indian University’s Maurer School of Law. It recruits students in all its programs through the US-based Law School Admission Test (LSAT-India).

About White & Case
White & Case LLP is a leading global law firm with lawyers in 37 offices in 25 countries. Among the first US-based law firms to establish a truly global presence, we provide counsel and representation in virtually every area of law that affects cross-border business. Our clients value both the breadth of our global network and the depth of our US, English and local law capabilities in each of our regions and rely on us for their complex cross-border transactions, as well as their representation in arbitration and litigation proceedings.

Francine Minadeo
Media Relations Manager
White & Case LLP
+1 646 885 2218

Professor C. Raj Kumar
Vice Chancellor
O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) &
Dean, Jindal Global Law School
Tel: (91) 99101222851

As many of us gear up for a smaller Summer Associate program, we find that we need to tweak some of the basic skills (or completely teach them) for many of those Associates. I hear a lot of griping at conferences about the skills that law students have when they are fresh out of their 2nd or 3rd year, so we thought we’d give all of you a chance to step up and let us know what you think would better prep these future lawyers for the profession they just spend $100K+ to enter.

We had a number of different perspectives on the issue, and we thank each of you for contributing to this week’s Elephant Post. As is our routine every week, we post next week’s Elephant Post question below and give everyone a chance to share their perspective on the issue. So, read through this week’s perspectives, then take a couple of minutes to look over next week’s question to see if you have any insight you’d like to share.

Toby Brown

#1 – The KM piece.  Law schools teach students how to look backwards.  I call this the great Paradigm of Precedence.  Although there is value in gaining and building critical thinking skills, doing so with such a past-focused lens is a recipe for failure in a world of constant change.

So law schools should stop teaching students how to look in just one direction, but should instead teach them how to look in all directions.

#2 – The AFA Piece.  Law schools should stop teaching law likes it’s an academic exercise not to be tainted by the evils of profits.  Instead they should give law students practical skills on how to run a profitable practice.  The reality is unprofitable practices correlate with poor client service.  If a lawyer can’t efficiently and effectively run a practice, then they really can’t practice.  Law schools would do well to better prepare future lawyers for this reality.

probatur denuo
Unemployed lawyer
Law schools should radically change, if not eliminate the third year of law school. Here are two suggestions for alternate uses of that final year:

1) Instead of silly electives that will never apply again, the third year should be a time of mandatory apprenticeship. During this time, the student can work at a law school clinic, complete a work/study cooperative with a government agency or law firm, or intern for a minimum of 20 hours a week at a company. This would help the students experience the “real” practice of law while they are under the benefit of the student practice order. The students would get genuine experience that would make them more attractive to potential employers, and they would also have a valuable chance to decide whether the practice of law is truly for them.

Schools should have an “alternative careers” department. If students decide law is not for them, an “alternative careers” department could help them identify their true interests as well as opportunities to develop other expertise outside of the straight practice of law.

2) Bar exam preparation has turned into a massive business, making a profit on the backs of desperate and frightened bar exam takers, some of whom are unable to pass the bar exam at drastic personal cost. I think a lot of this misery could be avoided if law schools implement mandatory for-credit bar review courses for the third year of law school. Ideally these courses could be structured around well established bar preparation materials (such as books published by Emanuel or Barbri), review the local law and include study skills and psychological preparation for high stakes exams. A course like this should be mandatory at all schools for the lowest-performing students, and optional for the rest. In fact, I even believe such a course can even be graded – with those students who receive a C or lower receiving further tutoring or perhaps counseling for alternative careers.

legal marketer
Business basics

Law firms can’t just keep raising fees anymore and very few partners have any concept of how to run a business efficiently, much less grow one. This has implications not only for the health of their firm but to how they approach corporate clients.

An english major/law school graduate may not understand budgeting cycles, cashflow and other basic business practices that their clients live by  – thus they are in danger of giving wildly impractical advise or at least dangerously undersestimating its impact on clients.

Next Week’s Elephant Post

What is the future of legal directories?  Are they still valuable?  If so, in what form?

This question came to us from Dallas law librarian, Kevin Miles. Yes, that’s right, you can send us questions you’d like to see asked for our Elephant Post series!! Let us know what you think about the future of legal directories. Where are they heading? Are they going the way of the horse and buggy, or are they evolving into something that looks nothing like its current configuration??