“How much should a student focus on learning more substantive law in order to facilitate issue spotting and how much should they focus on developing the skills needed to develop the other four tools of a five tool lawyer?”  Deborah Maranville


The “five tool lawyer” immediately captured my interest as both a highly compelling metaphor and a potentially incomplete and misleading one, at least for law students thinking about their careers, and law schools contemplating their curriculum.    Compelling, because it moves beyond issue spotting v. problem solving to articulate the stages of problem solving, targeting a spotlight on often overlooked aspects.  Incomplete or misleading, because it compresses so much into stage 5, and, to a lesser extent stage 1.    Continue reading

False Dichotomy “A situation in which limited alternatives are considered, when in fact there is at least one additional option.”

I keep hearing that one of the main problems with legal services is your typical lawyer’s proclivity to spot issues rather than solve problems.  Paul Lippe has even called issue spotting “Innovation Enemy No. 1.”  As law schools around the country look at revising their curriculums, there is a lot of pressure to de-emphasize issue spotting in favor of problem solving.  One law school has even gone so far as to say its mission is to create problem solvers, and in support of that mission, has established a Center for Creative Problem Solving.

Continue reading

 Legal Malpractice: “The failure to render professional services with the skill, prudence, and diligence that an ordinary and reasonable lawyer would use under similar circumstances” 

As we all know, the practice of law is a standards of practice driven profession with your work being judged by whether you have exercised the skill, prudence and diligence that an ordinary and reasonable lawyer would under the circumstances.  If you could plot on a graph all lawyers’ approaches to handling a given legal issue, it would most likely look like the bell curve shown below.

Continue reading

“[Legal technicians] offers a sound opportunity to determine whether… the involvement of effectively trained, licensed and regulated non-attorneys may help expand access to necessary legal help…”

Washington State Supreme Court

Washington State has passed, and at least one other state is considering, programs that authorize non-lawyers who have been certified by the bar to provide specific legal services within designated areas of law.  Continue reading