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A Clockworks Approach to Lawyer Development


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The original Cravath System circa 1920 demonstrated the power of a "clockworks" approach to lawyer development. The system was a meticulously designed and mechanized way to create specialized lawyers who could service the needs of America's rapidly growing industrial and financial enterprises -- lawyers who were in perennial short supply because the requisite skill set could only be learned by doing. The System endured for a century because it solved the specialized lawyer shortage by making every stakeholder better off -- junior lawyers (received training), partner-owners (large, stable profits), and clients (world class service and value).

Today's legal employers and legal educators would benefit by revisiting this system's powerful business logic. The clockworks approach to lawyer development still works. The only difference is that the specifications for a great lawyer have changed. Like the original Cravath System, new clockworks would create a "better lawyer faster."

Presentation given at ReInvent Law, Silicon Valley, March 8, 2013

Published in: Education
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A Clockworks Approach to Lawyer Development

  1. 1. A Clockworks Approach to Lawyer Development William D. Henderson Indiana University Maurer School of Law
  2. 2. Original Cravath System System Cravath circa 1920 • Finding good raw talent • Pay a salary • Training rotation system ― Substantive knowledge ― Delegation ― Supervision ― Client relations • Low attrition, no lateral hiring • Teamwork demanded, rewarded • Up or Out
  3. 3. Inside the clockworks …• Contracts• Torts• Property• Civil Procedure• Collaboration Skill• Industry Knowledge• Effective Communication • Empathy • Self-Awareness • Active Listening• Project Management• Basics of Network Analysis and Stats• Basics of Systems Engineering• Basics of Knowledge Management• Basics of Design as a Discipline• Decision-Making• Upper Level Law