I'll return to my discussion of law school admissions soon, but another topic interests me tonight. Should law schools offer courses in law practice management? Some schools do, and it seems to me that all schools should. Why? Three reasons.
First, managing a law practice is different from running any other type of business. It's that pesky professionalism thing again. Lawyers need to integrate their self-interest in running a profitable business with their obligations to colleagues and clients. If we want lawyers to run their businesses in an ethical manner, we have to offer courses that teach management principles in the context of legal ethics; we can't simply tell law students to take a management course from the business school.
For critical thinking, teach students how to read a balance sheet--and have them create a business plan. What about drafting a partnership agreement or one that allocates intellectual property rights between employer and employee? We give credit for these intellectual pursuits in other courses; why not as applied to the practice of law itself?
The third reason to teach courses on law practice management, however, is the most important one of all. Without these courses, legal education privileges certain clients and disadvantages others. Large firms don't represent many disabled, poor, or middle class clients. When law schools neglect practice management, they neglect these clients.
Some schools have created incubators to help their graduates learn practice management after graduation. But why shouldn't students learn these principles before graduation? If law schools teach Accounting for Lawyers, why can't they also teach Law Practice Management? Does your law school teach a course related to practice management? Do you think it should? Comments welcome!