“Dentons has decided it will no longer report average profits per equity partner, and it hopes other law firms will do the same.”
 
ABA Journal, June 11, 2014

Kevin and I read with great interest the above report that Denton’s has decided to take a stand and will no longer report its average profits per equity partner (PPP), stating that the number is meaningless and has the potential to damage client relations.  Not surprisingly, American Lawyer editor-in-chief Kim Kleman stated that PPP is an important metric they will continue to track.

This story got us both to thinking about what are the metrics the legal profession should be tracking to gauge the health of the profession and of our overall legal system.  After diving into a discussion about PPP and its usefulness or lack thereof, our conversation turned (of all places) to global climate change. Continue reading

 
“Legal judgment, assessing actual risks, and problem solving are more often taught implicitly through legal practice in clinics, than explicitly as discrete skills.”
 
Deborah Maranville

As legal education attempts to implement an approach that systematically moves beyond issue spotting, we bump against the limits of both our knowledge and our curriculum. Consider the third and fourth tools in the Five Tool Lawyer framework:

Tool #3: “Use legal judgment to assess actual risks with spotted issues.”

Tool #4: “Problem solve for best way to meet client’s needs with minimal risk.”

How much do most lawyers know about how to “assess actual risks”? What does it mean to “use legal judgment” to perform that assessment? Continue reading

“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 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