Solo Practice University, which is the number one online educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students, as developed the Bridges program, which partners with law schools to help bridge the gap from law school to solo practice for its law graduates. It is a program that is intended to start before graduation for most law students.
I have thought about this problem quite a lot lately, with my oldest daughter graduating from law school in December, and as a result of the dozens of soon to be or recent law school graduates that email me for advice on how to make this leap from law school to practice. It really is the problem that can no longer be ignored.
I believe it does start with the realization by law schools that the overwhelming majority of their graduates will go out on their own, or associate with small law firms, where they are expected to be more practice ready, know in what areas they wish to practice, and have some guidance about how to succeed in this regard.
Law school clinics aside, law schools have not been very good in helping in this regard.
Bridges is probably a good name for it, because what the law graduate is trying to do mentally, conceptually, and educationally is to figure out how to make it across that void between law school and the actual practice of law. For most law graduates, that void is deep and uncertain. The consequences of jumping and missing can be devastating financially and emotionally, and law graduates know this. It is the reason for much anxiety. I hear it from them almost every day.
And, it is more than just transitioning to a solo practice. This void in terms of practice readiness, an idea of practice areas in which to engage, and relationship building with the legal community is the difference as to whether law graduates can find law jobs more easily after graduation, especially if they are coveted top 10% of their graduating class (a category not possessed by 90% of the graduating class).
It is time law schools, especially, face the facts. Tuition is too high, the amount of student loans too much, and the commitment by law students too overwhelming to continue to ignore the issue of the lack of bridges or transition help for their graduates into the real world of law practice. This is just the truth.
Now, as a disclaimer, SPU does not pay me any money, but it does allow me to hangout in their network community to offer advice where I can.