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Universities fail to keep pace with industry

Universities fail to keep pace with industry

Anthony Lieu, Beyond Law

Law schools continue to promote traditional roles that create narrow-minded students, but graduates are increasingly seeking New Law and other industry opportunities.

New research from online legal job board Beyond Law has revealed law graduates are looking beyond the traditional legal roles as job prospects remain at all-time lows.

Beyond Law managing director Anthony Lieu (pictured) said law students often only hear about commercial law positions at university and remain uninformed of the various opportunities that exist.

“That can create a narrow mindset, which continues throughout law school and then finally they figure out towards the end that maybe there are other opportunities out there,” Mr Lieu said.

Mr Lieu believes that while the academic side of law school is suitable for teaching legal theory and black letter law, universities need to continue to offer more support services and help in developing practical skills.

“In the past few years a lot of law schools now offer elective courses with a stronger practical component. By letting law students work in a practical environment, they are able to find a bit more outside the traditional sphere where they can use their law degree.”

New Law demands a different skillset that isn't taught in law schools, according to Mr Lieu, which is problematic in that universities aren't preparing their students for the current state of the legal industry.

“The legal sector is undergoing significant structural change: the globalisation of the legal profession, cost-cutting by legal firms, offshoring and outsourcing of legal work, commoditization of legal services and competition of non-legal or online providers.”

He added: “As the industry’s changing, I definitely think universities need to keep up and at the same time promote the opportunities as they emerge.”

Mr Lieu said while universities are “slowly coming around to providing more resources for students to understand where they can use their degree”, there are multiple stakeholders that have to come together to implement change.

The responsibility falls not only on law schools, according to Mr Lieu, but on law student societies and law societies as well.

Law student societies need to be aware that the traditional law firms have a larger marketing spend, and so a conscious effort needs to be made to promote other opportunities that exist in New Law and other industries.

“A law degree is very powerful in the graduate marketplace and it’s more about knowing where you can use your law degree. Traditional law firms are an excellent route, but there's definitely a lot more out there that students should be aware of as well.”

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