Is the traditional law degree helping or hindering graduates for law in the digital age? Last year we hosted a roundtable with academics, lawyers and HR directors to answer this question.
An interesting take-out was that High Distinction marks are no longer required for securing a job. Instead, there is a focus on broad experience and passion, as well as whether the candidate is a good cultural fit.
Bearing this in mind, we wanted to scope out the other side of story; students. We sat down with current law students and recent graduates to find out whether their degrees adequately prepared them for a successful career in the digital age. Here’s what we found:
Rise in hybrid lawyers
It has become obvious that the role of the lawyer has changed significantly for graduates, with participants all agreeing that there will be a dual role for lawyers in the future.
They believe they need to be what we coined a ‘lawyer-plus’ – lawyer plus project manager, lawyer plus data analyst, lawyer plus marketer and so on.
While graduates and workplaces are adhering to these changes, our legal students unanimously agreed that the education system has not, therefore exemplifying the need for greater collaboration between academia and the workplace.
While employers felt that double degrees weren’t necessary, most students claimed to want to demonstrate diversity through double, and sometimes triple degrees. While traditionally Arts/Law has been the double degree of choice, graduates feel Law/Technology is in most demand.
There has been widespread discussion about lawyers learning to code and understand new tools like electronic graduate. However, graduates are taking this one step further and feeling pressure to add value to the role – either through a double degree or experience from part-time work.
Are universities failing to prepare graduates?
Employers are investing heavily in training graduates in admin, search, technology and practice management. While this isn’t an issue for employers, graduates admitted to feeling like they start work already behind.
Apart from one student, the graduates felt that academia had not prepared them well for work with its focus on developing analytical thinking rather than on practical skills, as well as long deadlines and work presentation methods which don’t resemble the workplace.
Incorporating technology use into the educational curriculum doesn’t necessarily require large investment. However, involving more practical assignments in real-time or developing strong work experience opportunities from the first year of study would see students better prepared for employment post-graduation.
Where to from here?
Both employers and graduates agreed that there is a technology gap as graduates enter the workforce.
While employers have said they are happy to train graduates, the graduates felt that they could begin work and study better with more access to legal focused technology.
This is where technology providers can help bridge that gap by working closely with Universities and business to provide access and training to technology suitable to students and entry-level graduates.
If you’re interested in learning more about our legal student’s roundtable, download the eBook.
About John Ahern
John joined InfoTrack in 2015 as the Chief Technology Officer taking charge for establishing the company’s technical vision and leading on all aspects of InfoTrack’s technology development. John was appointed to the role of Chief Executive Officer in May of 2015 where he is now responsible for maintaining the extensive growth of InfoTrack in the Australian market. With a strong technical background, he has vast experience in designing and developing products and has delivered platforms from inception to production.