Q: What do law schools mean when their websites say they educate their students to be “practice ready”—and how is it different from learning the law in class?
A: Most of the time, they mean–in addition to traditional classroom teaching, they offer opportunities for students to have real world experience with clients, even if gained on campus working in a law school clinic, or in a simulated practice setting, such as moot court, which is a mock appellate court experience combining written and oral advocacy.
Law schools also offer a range of on-the-job supervised externships, internships, cooperative employment, negotiation and trial practice classes and competitions. It is important to find and take advantage of as many of these experiences as are available and relevant to your interests (if you know your practice focus), without impacting your grades adversely or overtaking a reasonable balance.
Also, scour the websites and curricula for practice readiness training on the intangibles of succeeding in law practice, from communicating with confidence in meetings to delivering bad news to supervisors and clients. Too often, law schools overlook imparting information and advice about how to handle the critical moments in practice in their dedication to helping students think and analyze rigorously. The tenured and adjunct faculty are resources for the students, who should take an active role in their graduate education. No matter which law school you attend, be sure to ask questions about law and the practice of law…and, as an alum, give back by participating on panels and programs.