Law school 'not sufficiently preparing Gen-Z lawyers for work' – US survey

Nearly half of junior associates in the US feel law school failed to sufficiently prepare them for work, according to a new ‘Gen-Z’ survey conducted by a legal recruitment company. However, the managing director of Major, Lindsey & Africa believes the Solicitors Qualifying Examination puts the UK ahead of the curve.

According to Major, Lindsey & Africa’s report, Beyond Tradition: Gen-Z’s Approach to Big Law, ‘Generation Z… received interrupted educations as part of a widespread remote learning experiment, necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic. They are the first generation of digital natives, turning to the internet first for news and guidance before making decisions’.

Major, Lindsey & Africa wanted to understand what impressions the first few years as associates have left on them and received 546 responses to a web-based survey sent out earlier this year.

According to the findings, 45% of respondents said law school did not sufficiently prepare them for their current role.

‘When asked what they would change about legal education given the chance, far and away the most common responses involved more practical skills training and additional focus on more transactional practice types, such as corporate, real estate, tax, and M&A,’ the report said.

Three in 10 said their experience working at their current firm did not match their expectations from law school.

The report said ‘law school’s focus on litigation was a repeated theme, with many young lawyers in other practice areas stating they had received no substantive training during school in the work they are currently doing. Respondents also lamented a lack of “practical skills” and limited or no focus on transactional lawyering’.

While the respondents in the survey were mostly US-based, Nathan Peart, managing director of Major, Lindsey & Africa, believes the UK picture would tell a different story. ‘While the long-term impact remains to be seen, the introduction of the SQE has been designed to help bridge this gap between academic training and practical skills,’ Peart said.

Students in England and Wales must complete two years’ qualifying work experience to pass the SQE.


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