top 20 things every law graduate needs to know*how to do

John Ammann
Director of SLU Law
 Tricia Harrison
Assistant Clinical
The Evolving Art of Practice Ready
Where did this come from?
 How did the question “evolve?”
 ABA Task Force on Law Schools and the
Profession: Narrowing the Gap
◦ requirement of practical skills courses
McCrate Report
 Carnegie Report
 Changing legal marketplace-crash of 2008
What do students need to know
McCrate Report
Very specific areas
Specific knowledge
Example of McCrate Report
Fundamental Skill
◦ “understanding of the various ethical rules
and professional vales that shape the nature
and bounds of a counseling relationship
between layer and client”
◦ This is knowledge
Another example
◦ An understanding of the processes for taking
an appeal including
 The types of factors that should be considered in
deciding whether to take an appeal
 Once that decision is made, the analytical processes
for identifying the range of issues and selecting
those to be raised
 Various skills, concepts and processes required for
effective written communication
Where is the skill?
How do you find, fill out and file a Notice
of Appeal?
 What do the local rules say is required in
the actual brief?
 Record on appeal?
 How to read a transcript and create a
statement of facts from the record?
 How do you e-file?
Example of McCrate
◦ Presenting one’s ideas or views with precision,
clarity, logic, and economy;
◦ Choosing appropriate terms, phrases, and
◦ Applying the mechanics of language (grammar,
syntax, punctuation) in an effective manner,
◦ Attending to detail (proof reading)
How do you do this?
 Observation
 Discussion
 Skills
 Practice
 Real live experience
 This can be done in every class not just
Top 10 Skills our alums think every
graduate should know HOW to do
Survey of 100 alums
◦ Limitations
Litigation heavy
Civil practice
Small firms
Less than 10 years in practice
Most had taken clinic during law school
All stayed in St. Louis or Missouri metro area
Top 10:
Number 1
“The ability to communicate with clients
cannot be stressed enough.” (comment
from responder)
◦ How to effectively and appropriate communicate
in both written and oral form with:
Opposing counsel
Staff (including paralegals and how to use them
 clerks
Comments from recent grads
Client letters
plain English
Purpose of communication
When court is and the importance of being there
List of things to do
Deadlines, etc
Letters to opposing counsel & other professionals
◦ Oral communication with opposing counsel
 “how to deal with the obnoxious, bellicose, a**hole on the other
Biz letters
Email communication
Punctuation, grammar and spelling, clarity
Comments regarding
communication continued
How to find resources
◦ “good language” from other attorneys work
◦ Forms prepared by local bar/practice manuals
Asking for help
 Helping students know their strengths
and weaknesses in communication
 Practice, practice, practice
Top 10:
Number 2
Knowing the Rules of Procedure, how to
find them and apply them
◦ Including the local rules of different
 The skill of drafting documents related to those
Discovery requests
Bill of particulars
Top 10:
Number 3
Negotiations skills
◦ How to resolve conflicts (with clients and
opposing parties)
◦ How to settle a case
 Including drafting a settlement agreement
◦ How to draft “attempt to resolve” letters
◦ Mediation statements
◦ Doesn’t have to be a separate class, should be
discussed throughout
Top 10:
Number 4
Interviewing and Counseling skills
◦ Clients
 “From first phone call/meeting to signing the fee
 How to gather information
 How to analyze the information
 How to provide options
 How to deal with difficult clients
◦ Witnesses
How to gather information
How to take notes
Preparation for depos/court
Comments from recent grads
“Client counseling needs to include the
ethical dilemmas that arise and how to
apply the ethical rules”
 How to manage client expectations
◦ “all clients want to know 1). how much, 2).
how long and 3). what are the next steps. We
must teach how to anticipate these questions
and answer them before it comes up.”
Top 10:
Number 5
Plan it
Organize for
Prepare witnesses for
Oral skills
Top 10:
Number 6
◦ Overall presentation skills
 How to present to different groups
◦ Opportunities to present information is
◦ Motion argument
◦ Argue to trial judge
◦ Appellate court
◦ Jury trials
Top 10:
Number 7
Direct and Cross Examination of a
The actual skill
How to organize it
What questions to ask
How to ask it
When to not ask a question
When to stop
Top 10:
Number 8
Drafting documents
◦ Complaints
◦ Motions
◦ Settlements
 Including “attempt to resolve letters”
◦ Transactional documents
 Contracts
 Real estate agreements
 Business deals
“Each course should contain a ‘how to’ section.
Such as, draft a contract in Contract Law. In Civil
Procedure, view and complete normal forms in a
civil case. Have the students use Missouri
Practice to find and create forms needed
everyday in the real world.”
 “The number of lawyers who graduate law school
without ever having drafted a law suit should
rightly leave the public bewildered and asking:
‘How can you graduate from law school if you've
never drafted a law suit?’, or, alternatively, ‘If they
didn't teach you how to draft a law suit in law
school, what DID they teach you?’"
“One of my first assignments was to draft
an amendment to a sale contract. I had no
idea how to do this. I was also assigned to
work on a closing checklist. I had no idea
how to do this and had never even seen a
closing checklist before. I had very little
transactional drafting instruction in law
Top 10:
Number 9
Organization, Work Ethic, time
◦ Soft skills
◦ Not fixing the problem for them when they
are stuck
◦ Accountability
◦ Problem solving
◦ Setting high expectations
◦ How do you juggle it all
Top 10:
Number 10
Thoroughness of research
Where to start
When to end
Appropriate cases to use
Practice, practice, practice
 You cannot just teach this first year in LRW
 Must have them continue to practice the skills
throughout their three years
“Versatility in different research formats is highly
important and not focused on enough in law school. Many
new attorneys start out on their own or join small
practices where they do not have access to Lexis Nexis or
Westlaw, and they have to utilize other avenues of
research, so it would be helpful to know how to find and
navigate these free or less expensive programs.”
Knowing how to do complete research without breaking
the clients' budget.
How to use Missouri Practice set.
how to access non-traditional research.
“Show and Tell”, not “Tell and Show”
Entry of Appearance
◦ Traffic Case
Electronic Filing/Filing New Cases
◦ Learning Jurisdiction
Draft a complaint
◦ Demand letter first?
◦ Divorce
Discovery ---- electronic
◦ Toxic torts
Draft a Motion
◦ For Change of Judge
◦ To Suppress
Draft a Judgment
◦ Medicaid lawsuit
Draft an Agreement
◦ Representation Agreement
◦ Settlement Agreement in a class action for the
Draft a Power of Attorney
◦ For a member of the military
Draft a Will
◦ For a person with AIDS
Draft a business formation document
◦ For a minority owned business
State Bar Exam Topics
 State Bar CLE Goals
 Needs of Employers
 Needs of Clients
 Needs of Society
 Interests of Students
Comments from alum
“In my first time in court after I graduated, I could
not find a job, and a friend of mine asked me to
help him with a speeding ticket. I told him to
come to Court dressed in a suit, and I would take
care of it. When the prosecuting attorney asked
me ‘Have you filed your entry?’, I looked at him
like he was speaking Mandarin Chinese. How
could my law school have failed to teach me
about the existence of something SO BASIC?
What an embarrassment. Kids should not have
to learn of such a basic legal document in Court
and be ‘schooled’ in front of a client by the
opposing attorney”
There’s Plenty of Time
3 years
 84 weeks
 1,260 hours
Show and Tell
 And Show Again

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