Legal Ethics

Law Prof Says Students Should Be Forewarned About Practice Perils

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Brooklyn Law School professor Anita Bernstein believes that forewarned really does mean forearmed.

Toward that end, Bernstein advocates warning law students about the perils of law practice. She says student cynicism and lawyer malaise might be remedied if would-be lawyers learn up front about the profession’s perils.

Bernstein outlines her views in a working paper (PDF) published on the Social Science Research Network.

“Knowing about pitfalls ahead of time makes new lawyers more, not less, fulfilled and secure when they begin their work,” Bernstein writes. Students need to learn about a variety of perils, she says, including why lawyers lose their licenses, why they get hit with malpractice judgments, what level of competence is deemed ineffective, and when to struggle against judges.

Berstein says a student armed with knowledge about potential pitfalls is akin to a biker who is warned about specific problems ahead. “Talking to students about contingencies ahead in the practice of law gives them a boost of vigor and optimism, in the way that athletes planning for a marathon or long bicycle ride seek out and relish any advance information they can get about the hill, the stretch of potholes, or the bad neighborhood on their route,” she writes.

“Only from a base of pitfalls-knowledge can lawyers master their own profession.”

Hat tip to TaxProf Blog.

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