A Radical Recruitment Strategy for Law Firms & Career Coaches
Get in Line to Embrace “On Line LLM & M.S. Law Degrees”
A Future Law Perspective
John G. Kelly
B.Com., LL.B., M.Sc. (international relations) M.A. (Jud.Admin) F.CIS
“Attorney and counsellor at law” That’s not a very impressive professional designation. But it was the title bestowed upon U.S. attorneys in the aftermath of the American revolution in an effort to enable the widest possible range of legal services providers to provide easy and affordable access to justice by the public. One of the primary reasons for the creation of the prestigious Juris Doctorate (JD) designation for law graduates under the leadership of Harvard Law School in the mid 19th century was to link legal education with the elite Medical Doctorate (MD) degree. Four years of undergraduate baccalaureate education followed by three years of rigorous”jurisprudential” focused legal education brought what was an historic “hodge podge”of disparate vocational training regimes up to MD standards.
That was all fine and good in the 19th century. Fast forward to the 21st century. The still prestigious MD professional designation is now looked upon as a primary professional designation, not a practitioner qualification. The great majority of MD graduates are now expected to enter a variety of post graduate residency/research programs. The contemporary MD now has additional specialist credentials that indicate they are highly trained specialists in a practice niche.
The legal profession hasn’t moved beyond the 19th century. The great majority of law schools and law firms continue to tout the JD as the “gold standard” that provides graduates with the professional competencies to practice any and all kinds of law. Substantive “white paper” reports within the professions now acknowledge that the singular LLB/ JD designation and the UK bifurcated legal education program with its famed elite barristers mentored though the historic Inns of Courts and vocational oriented solicitor training no longer meet complex 21st century diverse client needs.
In summation, the legal profession needs to play “catch up” with the medical profession. The traditional associate ladder in medium to large firms, wherein a newly minted lawyer was nurtured through “earn while they learn” programs paid for by clients, is facing increasing pushback. The client base wants service provided by“practice ready” legal services providers. If law firms can’t provide that level of service than corporate clients will look elsewhere in the professional consultancy field for alternative service providers or bring work in house. At the front line consumer level individuals are becoming “pro se” self- service legal solutions providers, frequently with the help and support of a burgeoning array of electronic support services.
How do Law Firms Bring the New Generation of Recruits Up to “Practice Ready” Standards at Time of Hiring?
How to Do Newly Minted LLB/JD Graduates Make themselves “Career Capable”?
The LLM/MS Law Degree
“Entry Ticket” for a Successful Legal Career
Law firms need to let go of the traditional mode of recruit hiring based on a combination of “speed date” interviews, summer placements and coached letters by final year students that say a lot about what their academic achievements are and who they are socially but little about their practice ready capability. Law firm recruiters and professional development managers should start letting prospective hires as well as junior associates know that the firm has identified a finite list of service niches that need to be filled in the short to medium term and they’re looking to recruit holders of LLM and M.S. Law designations that fit those requirements.
Law students need to come to terms with the reality of 21st century legal services market. Clients are looking for credentialed “innovative” practitioners. The LLB/JD designates professionalism but not necessarily specified service capability.
The first inclination of medium to small firms, along with sole practitioners and law students is to equate the LLM/M.S. Law credentials with client expectations in sophisticated high finance, taxation and big business. Not so. Big business wants legal services providers, who may or may not be lawyers, with graduate level legal project management capability. Couples with marital problems are now gravitating to “boutique” law firms with lawyers who have post graduate mediation credentials. Families looking to pass on assets to the next generation are being conditioned by banks to think beyond wills and look for service providers with wealth management expertise. The LLM in Medical Law and Ethics/M.S. Law Health Services Management programs are illustrative of the client need for depth and breadth in the increasingly sophisticated health care industry that extends well beyond the JD professional competency level and opens doors for aspirant professionals into profitable Non JD legal services provider careers.
Law firms can and should still look to hire the best and brightest, although as a forthcoming “Future Law Perspective” will point out, they may well look at an expanded network of law schools and new criteria for identifying those candidates. What they also need to do is become conversant with the “On Line LLM/M.S. Law” post graduate legal education market.
“On Line LLM/M.S . Law” post graduate programs enable law firms to continue to recruit the best and brightest at the JD degree level with the stipulation that “only those need apply” who are prepared to commit to a specified list of “On Line LLM/M.S. Law” programs that are linked to the law firms strategic plan. Prospective and/or recent JD graduates short on funds can and should link themselves to an “On Line LLM/M.S. Law” program and market themselves to a select group of law firms associated with that post graduate specialization. This is the new pathway for law school graduates to earn while they learn.
Law firms need to look into how health care providers organize their recruitment to attract prospective residents who are prepared to align their careers with their strategic plan. Law Students would benefit from getting in touch with their medical student colleagues for hands on coaching on how to link employment with identifiable post graduate education opportunities with prospective employers.
Lawyers wanting to switch into alternative professional careers or expand their career reach and “alternative law career coaches” need to jump on the “On Line LLM/M.S. Law” bandwagon as a mechanism to “leverage law degrees into satisfying professional careers”.
Law firm recruiters and professional development managers, law students, lawyers looking for alternatives and “alternative law career coaches” are all at the first level of the learning curve on post graduate legal education and the opportunities to access it through “On Line LLM/M.S. Law” learning. The following referrals will facilitate elevating to the next level of that learning curve:
- Law School Alternatives to JD Programs- Hanover Research
- Post JD and Non –JD Programs – American Bar Association
www.americanbar.org › … › Resources › Post-JD & Non-JD
- 27 Online Masters of Laws by UK Universities
- On Line Masters of Laws Degrees – U.S. News
Interested in linking to an innovative LLM/M.S. Law Degree web site that will provide a combination of in depth analysis of post graduate legal education programs and profiles of holders of LLM/M.S. Law Degrees who have leveraged them to open doors into satisfying professional services provider careers.? Let me know.
 Alfred Zantzinger Reed, Present Day Law Schools in the United States and Canada. Bulletin Number Twenty One. New York. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. (1928)>
 Deborah Rhode, The Trouble With Lawyers. New York. Oxford University Press. (2015) at 129.
 Report of the Special Committee on Foreign Law Schools Seeking Approval under ABA Standards, American Bar Association, July 19, 2010.
 Sir David Clementi, Report of the Review of Legal Services in England and Wales. Ministry of Justice (2004), www.americanbar.org › … › Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, www.cbafutures.org/