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With the legal job market looking more and more dismal for new graduates, some law schools are changing up their curriculum. Instead of preparing students for law firm life, some are offering in house counsel classes.
Catholic University's Columbus School of Law is one such institution. Last spring it invited Bruno Bich to teach a course on how to practice law for a corporation. Bich is chairman of Bic, as in the French company that makes pens and razors. Bich isn't a lawyer. In fact, his background is in business.
So why would a law school want a non-lawyer to give a lecture to law students?
To help them get hired as general counsels straight out of law school. And it's not a path Catholic University is embarking down on its own. Other schools are developing or looking into offering similar programs. These colleges include American University's Washington College of Law and George Washington University Law School.
It's a bold step for legal education. But it might also be a necessary one. With the number of LSAT takers at its lowest point in 10 years and law school applications down at many universities, interest in the field appears to be waning. And with good reason.
Being a lawyer has commonly been associated with providing a life of financial security. However, with the ever-growing glut of new attorneys, demand for new legal hires isn't very high. Couple that with the recent news of many law schools allegedly playing fast and loose with their employment statistics, and you've got a recipe for disaster.
Disaster for the law schools, at least. Remember, even though universities are supposed to educate, they're still businesses. And law schools are known for their relatively high profit margins. The shift towards offering in house counsel classes may be what some colleges need in order to maintain a fresh stream of 1Ls.