I am back from my speaking engagement earlier this week at Washington & Lee Law, and I am pleased to report that I found the entire experience enjoyable. It does not hurt that W&L is in a quintessentially charming small town nestled between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains of Virginia and that the campus itself is about as picturesque as it gets. Those things are frosting on the cake, however, for a top-notch legal education program. Most of you know the reputation of W&L Law, but you may not know much about the innovative program there to actually prepare law students to be lawyers.
The program is in its third year, and, by now, all 3Ls are involved in the new curriculum. It includes speakers to prepare students for the real world of law practice and a practicum program that includes typical legal challenges and role playing as corporate lawyers and litigators. Although there are no exams, there is plenty of accountability, just as it should be. The object is to make the students as practice-ready as possible without returning to the days of “reading the law” and “apprenticeship” that were alive and well in the Commonwealth of Virginia until well after these methods of legal preparation had gone out of style in other jurisdictions.
As a part of this program, Professor Jim Moliterno teaches a course for all 3Ls about law practice, including the culture, economic systems, history and current issues in the law. Some of the other visiting speakers include specialists in personal identity, leadership, the future of the large law firm, being a lawyer-entrepreneur, and globalization of law practice. I was pleased to be part of this project and to help the young women, as well as the good representation of young men, better understand some of the challenges that they will encounter in trying to balance their personal and professional lives.
Hopefully, these students will have a “leg up” in terms of preparation for practice. That certainly is the plan. However, currently, they report facing the same challenges in terms of finding employment after graduation as many of you. I wish them—and you— the very best of luck and hope that the economy improves sooner rather than later to make that easier for all of you.
In the meantime, keep the faith!