I remain convinced that a Juris Doctor degree is an advisable investment. I’d like to explain why. I know, of course, that as a law school dean I have an interest in the matter, yet I have the role that I do because I believe in the professional training we offer and not vice versa.

Almost exactly 20 years passed from the time I stepped foot in San Francisco to interview with one of the major firms for a summer associate position and the moment I returned to head Hastings, the first law school of the University of California system. I practiced here for a couple of years. When I came back, I was astonished to see that fewer than half of what are now called “big law” firms were still around. Many had merged, some vanished, a few continued. Even the firms that ceased to exist enjoyed fine reputations for their lawyering up to the very end. They just hadn’t made the best bets on real estate, lateral partners, branch offices or trends affecting their revenue.

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