Dean Douglas Sylvester

As lawyers, judges and a legal community, are we pleased with law-school education? Simply put: Are law schools doing their job?

That’s a question we’ll drill into in an upcoming issue, when we publish our Q&A with ASU Law School Dean Doug Sylvester in an upcoming Arizona Attorney Magazine.

I sit down for my interview with the Dean later this week. And to get ready for it, I’d love to know: What do you think I should ask Dean Sylvester?

Are you a recent law school grad (from ASU or from anywhere else)? If so, do you believe you received a good education? And were you prepared to enter the legal job market?

Or are you a legal employer who has hired recent graduates? Were the applicants’ skills and other important traits up to the task? Have you seen those skills improve or worsen over the years?

Part of the difficulty we have answering my first question above is that we as a legal community can’t seem to decide what the primary mission of law school is. High-level conferences are held around the country about every six months, all aiming to tease out “the state of law schools.”

What do you think that role is? Purely and simply to generate graduates who can slide into associate or other first-year jobs, causing law firms as little bother (and training) as possible? Or is law school supposed to be preparation-plus? Should it involve heightened intellectual rigor befitting a Doctor of Laws sheepskin?

Let me know your suggested questions and comments by commenting below. Or, if you’d rather the Dean and the rest of the world not see what you wrote, send me an email at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. I would appreciate all of your thoughts. You may even see your questions get asked in print!

This evening, Perkins Coie partner Howard Cabot will describe his work on the global stage.

As Daniel Rothenberg, Executive Director for the school’s Center for Law and Global Affairs, describes it, Cabot, a well-known local lawyer and adjunct at the College of Law, will discuss his commitment to taking 3-4 month sabbaticals as an integral part of being a partner at a major law firm. The sabbatical system he supports is practiced by a handful of firms and requires that partners spend the time away from the firm doing something substantive and engaging.

Cabot recently returned from a trip to Argentina, Bosnia, Croatia, Israel and South Africa, where he spoke about his experiences defending a Guantanamo Bay detainee while learning how local advocates used the law and courts to face authoritarian repression, conflict and apartheid.

The goal of this event is to open up a conversation about the nature of a career in corporate law while providing a personal case of the value of linking domestic legal practice with a comparison of how others around the world face questions of human rights and the rule of law.

Dean Douglas Sylvester will introduce Cabot, and Rothenberg will manage the interview portion, which will be followed by questions.

More detail is here.

I hope to see you there.