Responses to the Richard Susskind’s questions students should ask would prove valuable for someone interviewing for an entry-level position with a large law firm, assuming the job were intended as more than a pit stop to repay student debt. The responses would likely be even more valuable for a senior associate or partner considering a lateral move. But only 15 percent of law school graduates start their careers with the country’s largest law firms. On their face, Susskind’s analyses in this excerpt help only a fraction of job seekers.
The key, however, is the underlying theme present in his analyses. Law firms are businesses that happen to provide legal services. Whether large or small, law firms have different structures, priorities and visions. Details differ, but fundamentally, any firm must think about its current and future competitive and comparative advantages. If a business cannot bring in sufficient revenue to justify costs and time, it will no longer operate short of subsidy.
Students need to expose themselves to the challenges facing law firms of all sizes today, as well as to the possible challenges of the future. Law schools will help them through the curriculum and professional development, but actively thinking about what makes businesses tick will ensure they make the most of those offerings.