No Surprise To Hiring Attorneys: 3Ls Overestimate Their Readiness To Practice Law


BARBRI just released their “State of the Legal Field Survey: Insights from BARBRI’s first annual survey of law students, law school faculty and attorneys,” which – as its name suggests – is intended to be the first of a new series of tracking studies. barbri11

BARBI interviewed more than 1,500 current law students, faculty, and practicing attorneys and identified 5 key findings.


I suspect this finding will come of no surprise to hiring attorneys, but it’s a critical message for law students. The gap between students’ self-perception and attorneys' perception of students was huge – 76% of 3Ls believed they were ready to practice law “right now,” compared to 56% of practicing attorneys. The message for law students is: spend more time on building your practice skill set (and acknowledge you’re not quite as ready as you think you are!).


The message for law students is clear: beef up your legal writing skills.


Again I found the details here unsurprising. More than 70% of 3Ls thought they had good practice skills. Only 23% of practicing attorneys agreed.


That optimism among law students may be doing them a disservice. I strongly suggest that students focus on the realities of the job market and that they can do what it takes to prepare for it. As you choose your classes and activities, you’ll want to consider which ones will make you a more marketable job candidate by graduation. As the study shows, you’ll want to focus on writing and practice skills.


Law school can be a good investment. But law students need to think ahead and work hard to get the most out of that investment. Think about the job market. Think about what type of law you want to practice and where. Think about what those employers are looking for in an entry-level attorney. Then use your law school experience to make yourself marketable to those employers.