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The business of America is business.” What was true in the 1920s is true today. Then why is it that law schools effectively ignore teaching the business of law and the economics of business deals, which drive so much of a firm’s workflow? My own experience is a case study in law schools’ business education deficiency. Law school was devoid of any mention of how the practice of law operates as a business and how our clients function as businesses. It was as though law school presumed you would work in a legal vacuum without a care as to how business comes in the door or how economics drive our future clients. And therein lies the disconnect. A couple of years out of law school, and I am expected to create a marketing plan, but I have no formal education in marketing. Worse, as a transactional lawyer (I practice “dirt” law), I am presumed by my clients to understand rudimentary accounting and be facile in advanced finance. The only problem is I never learned-nor was I expected to even use-the lingo. Generating business? Structured marketing plans? Goodness gracious, no. I could write a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court and argue in front of the 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals following graduation from law school (or so I was told). Unfortunately, I had limited skills with which to obtain business and demonstrate my legal prowess. In addition, other than common sense, I had little formal training with which to go out and, in a nonscattershot fashion, generate business. What made the transition from the ivory tower to private practice all the more distressing is the fact that I did not even know that I would need to develop the skill sets to generate business and understand the business of my clients so early in my career. It is not as though I expected to toil in the salt mines for five or 10 years, learn the letter of the law and then emerge as counsel to the deal on the day that I made partner (should I be so fortunate). However, upon graduating from law school, I did expect more of a honeymoon period whereby I would learn the trade gradually, have a layer of partner protection and, over time, develop both legal and business expertise in a hands-on manner. What I have discovered is that clients are more forgiving of a lack of knowledge on the legal side and less understanding of a lawyer’s deficiency in the client’s area of expertise, the business side. The honeymoon has been short. Disservice to students Looking back, I wish now that law school took seriously the 1920s truism and recognized that, like it or not, the business of law is business. By de-emphasizing the economics of the business of law and the business of our future clients, law schools do a disservice to their graduates. True, such an emphasis may add to the coarseness and monetary-rewards facets of the profession rather than the optimistic pursuit of justice. Unfortunately, my personal educational gap has created a tremendous handicap for me by throwing me into a world where I am facile with the law but fail to appreciate the fundamentals of the business deals that are struck and the economic structure of the legal profession. The dream utopia of practicing law in a vacuum emphasized in law school fails to recognize the realities of practice. It is incumbent upon law schools to recognize the practical needs of their graduates and offer, if not require, a series of lectures, a seminar or even an audited course that focuses on the fundamentals of accounting, finance and marketing in order to prepare practically, and not only academically, the lawyers of tomorrow. Matthew Weinstein is an associate in the real estate and government-assisted and affordable housing practice groups at Philadelphia-based Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen.

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