More Law Firm M&A, and Legal Education

Back in October, I noted the passing of my old law firm, Gray Cary, with its merger with Piper Rudnick. It turns out that the lamentations were premature. As of January 1, 2005, both Gray Cary and Piper Rudnick will disappear into the maw of the international legal conglomerate to be known as “DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary,” the third largest law firm in the world, and anticipated to generate $1.5 billion in revenues in 2005.

As the world of law practice accelerates in that direction, I am struck by the weirdness of one particular aspect of legal education. Most of our students come straight out of college, spend three years in law school, and head straight into law practice. Do law firms — especially large law firms — really want to hire new lawyers coming out this system? I can’t imagine they do, any more than WalMart or Procter & Gamble wants to hire MBAs who went straight from college to business school. Top MBA programs have long all but required their incoming students to spend a couple of years, at least, working in the world before entering graduate school. If the law really is just a business, why don’t law schools uniformly require the same?