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Law school, despite being an academic institution, is a bit controversial these days. You have those who complain about not being able to do anything with their law degree, those who disagree, those who want to shorten law school to two years, and those who want to "kill" law school.
Amidst the controversy, we see a new trend emerging -- coursework geared toward working as in-house counsel. Let's take a look at the offerings, and how you, as in-house counsel, can get involved.
Programs for Law Students
Programs for law-students aimed at giving prospective JDs a glimpse at what it's like to work as in-house counsel have been growing in popularity for a few years now. Not only do these courses serve to give students more practical experience, but they also help companies' ledgers by keeping costs down by hiring lawyers straight out of school. Cardozo School of Law offers an In-House Counsel Internship to students during the academic year, and New York Law School, also in New York City, recently launched The Institute for In-House Counsel.
Programs for Practicing Lawyers
The fun doesn't stop once you graduate from law school. Practicing attorneys can also further their careers with continuing education in areas devoted to the art of working in-house. Harvard has its Leadership in Corporate Counsel program as part of its Executive Education, and UC-Irvine is launching a comprehensive Center for Corporate Legal Leadership.
Career Opportunities for You
Perhaps you're comfortably situated as in-house counsel, maybe even on the path to becoming GC. What does this trend mean for you? Well, to start, you can be a part of the trend by opening your legal department to externships with area law schools. If you have more of an academic bent, you can even approach area law schools about starting in-house counsel course work, and even offer yourself up as a professor or guest lecturer.
If there's one thing we've learned, there is no straight path for legal careers. They wind and take interesting turns. Law school education is evolving to meet these needs, and you can add some interest to your own career by being a part of it.
Editor's Note, July 5, 2016: This post was first published in July, 2014. It has since been updated.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.