Corporate law firms have raised demands regarding legal education. Now they should play a greater role in shaping it, argues Jonathan Gingerich of the University of California
Corporate law firms have emerged as a small but economically important part of the Indian legal sector in the past 20 years. These firms are seeking lawyers with different skill sets than those typically possessed by elite lawyers prior to the liberalization of India’s economy. Particularly, in order to satisfy the demands of clients, Indian corporate law firms are keen to employ lawyers who can conduct rigorous legal research, write clear legal prose, and work on teams with other lawyers. Rather than hiring experienced lawyers, firms turn to fresh law school graduates.
Corporate law firms tend to have relatively little involvement with law schools. Several firms express an interest in stronger participation and believe that these institutions provide inadequate preparation for complex corporate legal work, but many have no direct involvement aside from conducting on-campus recruitment. As a result, the impact of corporate law firms on law schools has, so far, been indirect.
The primary mechanism through which these firms have impacted legal education is in changing the perception of the profession from low-paying and unattractive to lucrative and glamorous. Corporate law firms have raised demands regarding legal education and law schools have responded to this in different ways.
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Jonathan Gingerich is a lawyer and a PhD student at the University of California, Los Angeles. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is based on research he conducted with Nick Robinson as part of the Harvard Law School Program on the Legal Profession’s initiative on Globalization, Lawyers and Emerging Economies. Their findings are available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2398506.ucla.edu.