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Recent LexisNexis Survey Uncovers Gap in New Attorney Readiness for Real World Practice

95 percent of hiring attorneys believe recent law graduates lack legal research, litigation and transactional skills


A recent survey conducted by LexisNexis® Legal & Professional reveals a significant gap between law firm expectations and practice-oriented skills law students bring to their jobs upon graduation. The survey entitled, Hiring Partners Reveal New Attorney Readiness for Real World Practice, reveals that 95 percent of hiring partners and associates believe law school graduates lack practical skills related to legal research, litigation and transactional practice. Large and small law firm associates ranked advanced legal research, writing and drafting skills, practical application and an understanding of how litigation or transaction occurs in real life as some of the most important and deficient skills possessed by new associates with five or less years of experience. 

“With an estimated price tag of $19,000 to train one new hire, this gap between graduates’ readiness and real-world practice costs law firms considerable time and money,” said Paul Speca, vice president of Law Schools at LexisNexis. “Our survey results provide law schools with an opportunity to directly address the gap through their curricula and help set their graduates apart as they enter real world practice. It also highlights where law firms can supplement their training programs or adjust their entry-level hiring decisions.”

Knowledge and Experience Gaps

The survey reports that new associates spend 40 to 60 percent of their time conducting legal research. Yet, according to hiring partners and associates, nearly 30 percent of new attorneys lack the crucial legal research skills their job requires. 86 percent of those surveyed consider legal research skills and advance legal research skills highly important (at 86 and 81 percent respectively), and 88 percent said proficiency using paid research services is highly important. As such, 60 percent believe a certification program would be valuable for these new associates, enabling them to more quickly develop work efficiency.

For litigation, 66 percent of hiring litigation attorneys identified writing and drafting skills as highly important to equip new attorneys to hit the ground running. However, over 50 percent of them felt that recent graduates frequently lacked practical experience, including drafting settlement agreements, briefs, deposition questions and interviews, dispositive motions and jury questionnaires. 47 percent believe new associates have inadequate writing and drafting skills, and roughly two thirds of the respondents (65 percent) believe a certification program to be valuable.
Lastly, 34 percent of hiring partners and associates stated that new associates lack fundamental transactional skills, with 62 percent of them saying a certification program could be beneficial. Hiring partners and associates feel that the skills most often lacking are drafting substantive contracts and ancillary agreements, locating optional/alternative clauses, negotiating contracts and salient provisions, reading a balance sheet and other basic financial statements. 

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About LexisNexis® Legal & Professional

LexisNexis Legal & Professional is a leading global provider of content and technology solutions that enable professionals in legal, corporate, tax, government, academic and non-profit organizations to make informed decisions and achieve better business outcomes. As a digital pioneer, the company was the first to bring legal and business information online with its Lexis® and Nexis® services. Today, LexisNexis Legal & Professional harnesses leading-edge technology and world-class content to help professionals work in faster, easier and more effective ways. Through close collaboration with its customers, the company ensures organizations can leverage its solutions to reduce risk, improve productivity, increase profitability and grow their business. LexisNexis Legal & Professional, which serves customers in more than 175 countries with 10,000 employees worldwide, is part of RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries. 


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