Deals or No Deals: Integrating Transactional Skills in the First Year Curriculum
31 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2016 Last revised: 31 May 2017
Date Written: 2014
In the wake of criticism of legal education from both outside the academy and within, the mandate for developing and graduating practice-ready attorneys has never been clearer. There is a strong desire for law schools to begin graduating students who are practice-ready, meaning that these new attorneys would be prepared for the real practice of law upon graduation. The question of what type of practice remains. At least half, if not more, of all attorneys engage in some form of transactional practice, rather than litigation, or other form of dispute resolution. Transactional practice refers to the art of “planning, negotiating, documenting, and closing the deal.” The fact that so many practicing attorneys engage in transactional work indicates that, in order for law schools to produce truly practice-ready attorneys, law schools must train students for practice in both transactional and litigation fields. If law schools are not teaching transactional skills, then law schools are failing to teach over half of all lawyers the skills necessary to practice law. By changing the status quo, students may leave law school with both a more productive set of lawyering skills and a broader view of how they can contribute to the profession and the communities lawyers serve. If not changed, law schools will have failed in any effort to graduate practice-ready students.
This article joins a growing body of scholarship on the pedagogy of transactional law and skills. This article challenges the traditional pedagogy of teaching law students to think like a lawyer and argues that law schools should shift the analytical framework of a litigation-dominated model, which is typically taught in the first year, to a model that incorporates transactional skills teaching into the first year law school curriculum.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation