Read this passage:
[I]t is surpassingly strange that there is no connection between [school] programs, the trainers, and the [businesses] that will employ [graduates]. There is no dialogue about what type of [graduates] schools are preparing, how the paradigm needs to shift, and what new skills [employers] should be considering for the future. I cannot think of another industry where there is no relationship between the employers and the trainers. For the future, this really needs to change and I believe the key words are “partnerships” and “collaborations.”
Sounds like a great idea, right? It sure does to me. In fact, it’s the kind of thing I’ve been saying here for a while. Every hiring lawyer I know has been saying it. Smarter law students often tell me how they lament the lack of practical knowledge they have upon graduation.
I changed the words in brackets to make its source less obvious because it wasn’t written by someone involved in law at all. Who said it this time? It actually came from the president of my alma mater, but not my law school alma mater. It’s a quote from Tony Woodcock, president of the New England Conservatory of Music. Here is what he actually wrote:
[I]t is surpassingly strange that there is no connection between the conservatory programs, the trainers, and the orchestras that will employ conservatory-trained musicians. There is no dialogue about what type of musicians music schools are preparing, how the paradigm needs to shift, and what new skills orchestras should be considering for the future. I cannot think of another industry where there is no relationship between the employers and the trainers. For the future, this really needs to change and I believe the key words are “partnerships” and “collaborations.”
I guess law isn’t the only profession where there’s that kind of disconnect between the education and the job. I wish ASU would take a page out of NEC’s book. As much as the school seems to have improved in many ways in the years since I graduated, my recent experiences with ASU tell me I shouldn’t hold my breath for a paradigm shift creating new partnerships and collaborations with practicing lawyers to prepare students for the practice of law.
I judged law school moot court oral arguments last week at ASU. The judges’ orientation included a discussion of recent changes to the scoring system. The changes? Law students, presumably people with bachelor’s degrees and enough intelligence to have achieved a modicum of success in at least one area of their lives, were getting their feelings hurt by low scores.
The people in charge said that a 7 out of 10 should be where we start. I think 8 was supposed to be good, 9 great, and 10 exceptional. Scores of 6 and lower, it seems, were only for people who used obscenity in their oral arguments or ran out of the room crying. The new rules, which were already tough enough for some of the mathematically-challenged lawyers judging, were only made tougher by the fact most categories involved a score out of 22. No one thought it was funny when I asked if the participants would be hurt if I rounded down the mandatory 15.4 in those categories. I imagine that giving someone a zero in any category would have been viewed as highly insensitive and unforgivable.
The category for rebuttal involved only 4 points, so the default score should have been 3. My problem, however, was that some students forgot to reserve time for it and therefore didn’t do it at all. The grading criteria listed relevant considerations like “Did he/she ask the court to reserve time?” and “Did he/she limit his/her rebuttal to a few, brief points?” Am I really supposed to give someone a 3 in a category where they did absolutely nothing? I think that’s the intent. Maybe 2’s and 1’s are only for students who say “okay judges, I know I need to reserve time for rebuttal but I’m not, so go screw yourselves.”
While law students at a decent law school complain until they begin getting credit for doing nothing and further insulate themselves from the fact the world they’ll soon be entering is not always a happy, feel-good place, it seems that music students elsewhere are begging through their president for greater collaboration and more partnerships between those who do and those who will soon do. It seems very bizarre to me that conservatory musicians, not usually the most sensible lot (trust me, I know), are trying to acclimate themselves to the way things really are as law students fight tooth and nail to keep their heads in the sand.
I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not that there’s a least one other industry other than music where there is no relationship between the employers and the trainers. It certainly can’t be a good thing for any profession. All I really know is that I’d love to see law schools reaching out and trying to develop a relationship between the employers and the trainers and the students. No one benefits from disconnecting future lawyers, or really future anythings, from reality.
H/T Bruce Hembd