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Preparing law students to build client relationships

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Rutgers Law School teaches “collaborative law” to students headed into a new legal landscape, one in which corporate clients often expect to work shoulder-to-shoulder with their law firms, said Andrew Rothman, senior assistant dean for student affairs at the Newark campus.

“In collaborative law, the client becomes empowered and is a participant in the legal work being done,” Rothman said. “And the greater the client participation, the greater the client retention and satisfaction.”

Collaborative law is getting more attention, but it’s been around for at least 20 years, Rothman said. It can lead to more work for the lawyer, because the client “realizes what the lawyer is doing;” additionally, it “creates increased lawyer satisfaction, because the lawyer is not working in the dark, and the client develops more trust.”

In his classes, Rothman said he lectures on “the strangeness of the billable hour. Is this the appropriate way for clients to pay for legal services?”
Rothman pointed out that clients wind up paying the same whether their lawyer is rested and alert, or sleep-deprived and exhausted.

E-mail to: bfitzgerald@njbiz.com

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