Lawyer Competencies

In order to draft their externship learning objectives, students are asked to read a short article describing studies that have been done to identify competencies that lawyers need.  The article compiles lists of legal competencies needed from a client's perspective, a lawyer's perspective, and from the perspective of legal employers when hiring and assessing new lawyers.  

After reading the article, students are asked to complete a Legal Competencies Inventory which encompasses the professional knowledge, skills and values that effective lawyers need based upon the studies.  In the Legal Competencies Inventory, students evaluate how experienced they are with each factor at the beginning point of their externship.  Using the self-assessment of their current competencies and the gaps that they believe they have in their knowledge and skills, students are asked to identify formal learning objectives for their externship field work, keeping in mind the type of assignments and other opportunities that might be available in their field office. 


Hamilton, Neil W., Empirical Research on the Core Competencies Needed to Practice Law: What Do Clients, New Lawyers, and Legal Employers Tell Us? (2014). The Bar Examiner, September 2014.

Legal Competencies Inventory

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Denise Platfoot Lacey

Professor of Externships

University of Dayton School of Law

300 College Park

Dayton, Ohio 45469-2772


Click here to email Professor Platfoot Lacey

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