Law school aims to teach lawyering skills as well as legal analysis. While all students must acquire the skills of legal analysis, research and writing, law schools may decide what other skills to teach. Students also acquire skills and habits in informal ways, through clerkship experiences or pro bono volunteer work. However, there has been almost no study of what “skills” students pick up in these informal ways, and whether there are skills that would better be learned as part of the curriculum. This study looks at the skill of legal interviewing employed by students in a pro bono brief advice setting. It asks whether students pick up the interviewing skills that legal scholars recommend, or whether there are marked departures from those recommendations. It answers this question by analyzing transcripts from forty-six law student-client consultations and discovers one significant variation from the recommended protocol -- students begin counseling the client before completing the interview. The article categorizes the types of counseling students volunteer during the interview and reveals some problems that can be created through premature counseling. The article theorizes both why students are driven to counsel during the interview and how education in interviewing might improve the situation -- both for the clients and for the students.
51 St. Mary's L. J. 345 (2020).