Thursday, March 12, 2009

Testing the complete lawyer

Zedeck & ShultzBeing a lawyer is more than "thinking like a lawyer." So much more.

The LSAT at best tests certain aspects of "thinking like a lawyer."

So why not devise a test to assess the rest of what it means to think and act like a lawyer, what it really means to be a lawyer?

Sheldon Zedeck and Marjorie M. Shultz are trying to do just that:
To find out what applicant traits should figure in admissions decisions at law schools, [Zedeck and Shultz] coordinated individual interviews, focus groups and ultimately a survey of judges, law school professors, law firm clients and hundreds of graduates of Berkeley’s law school.

They asked, among other things, “If you were looking for a lawyer for an important matter for yourself, what qualities would you most look for? What kind of lawyer do you want to teach or be?”

The survey produced a list of 26 characteristics, or “effectiveness factors,” like the ability to write, manage stress, listen, research the law and solve problems. The professors then collected examples from the Berkeley alumni of specific behavior by lawyers that were considered more or less effective.

Using the examples, Professor Shultz and Professor Zedeck developed a test that could be administered to law school applicants to measure their raw lawyerly talent.

Instead of focusing on analytic ability, the new test includes questions about how to respond to hypothetical situations. For example, it might describe a company with a policy requiring immediate firing of any employee who lied on an application, then ask what a test taker would do upon discovering that a top-performing employee had omitted something on an application.
It will be interesting to see what happens when Zedeck and Shultz apply their test over time and to a deeper pool than Berkeley alumni.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, what is the answer to the question you posed at the end?

3/13/2009 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Political (generally, not as in elective politics) astuteness (for corporate clients) needs to be a major factor in a lawyers effectiveness.

3/13/2009 7:34 PM  

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