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If the law is becoming more of a business, should law schools become more like business schools? At many top campuses, the question is no longer purely academic. Confronted with a changing legal profession, leading law schools are mulling whether they need to change themselves to prepare students better for the new realities of practice. “Law schools are increasingly aware that their graduates are not going to be going out and working at 30-lawyer firms where decisions are made in the hallways or collegially over lunch,” said John P. Heinz, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago and co-author of an upcoming book about the changing profession. Many law schools, Heinz said, have responded to perceived changes in the marketplace and set a goal of training lawyers who understand the world of business better and can more easily put themselves in the shoes of clients. B-school approach To further that end, law schools are turning to business schools for inspiration. The team-based, case-study approach to instruction pioneered at business schools is now commonly found at law schools. Where law schools once based admissions solely on grades and test scores, some are now stealing another page from business schools and considering applicants’ work experience as well. But many law professors, while they say they welcome some changes, warn that wholesale adoption of business school practices risks producing less capable lawyers. “The larger part of business school curriculums is about learning skills,” said Jonathan Macey, a professor-designate at Yale Law School who has taught business school classes at Cornell University. “Learning the law is much more subtle.” Cross-pollination between law and business faculties is already taking place at many of the most prestigious universities in the nation. Last month, Harvard Law School launched a program on lawyers and the professional services industry, headed by Professor David Wilkins, a specialist in the legal profession. Wilkins said the program, which will sponsor research on both the profession itself and relevant issues in legal education, will benefit from the participation of faculty from Harvard Business School as well as lawyers in private practice. Law schools, said Wilkins, are already adopting “something more like the business school case method than the law school case method.”

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