Why do so many lawyers know so little about the economics of practicing their profession? Not surprisingly, it’s because their law school education did not address any of the business aspects of practicing law. So most young lawyers join law firms with little understanding of how they operate and without a clue as to what it takes to make a law practice successful and profitable. Many lawyers, especially those who join large firms, manage never to master these concepts — and, in many cases, work hard at avoiding them.

This abyss between law school education and professional practice is finally being acknowledged in academia. Harvard Law School has established a research center, under the direction of professor David Wilkins, to identify the broad issues that have transformed the legal industry. In addition to research projects, it has identified the need to make law school curricula more relevant to current issues in the profession. I would hope that this will include the basic economics of practice, how law firms operate, how services should be delivered and how to adapt to the changing needs of clients.

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