SSRN has recently posted a great ethnographic study of young US lawyers in terms of what they actually do in the office.
Sinsheimer, Ann and Herring, David J., Lawyers at Work: A Study of the Reading, Writing, and Communication Practices of Legal Professionals (March 14, 2016). Legal Writing Journal, Vol. 21, Forthcoming; U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-11.
It includes great evidence of lawyers dealing with the following (SSRN pinpoints):
- Using close reading and skimming strategies (pp13ff)
- Strategic reading (p23, 30ff)
- Reading from computer screens (p26) but using printed materials by preference (p24)
- Huge use of email for written communication (p45ff)
- Use of precedents (p48)
- Reviewing and revising constantly (p49ff), being meticulous (p50)
- Research/writing nexus (p51ff)
- Interpersonal skills and stress in the office (p58ff)
- Time-management (p60ff)
- Cross cultural communication (p64)
- Developing professional identities (p66ff)
- Suggestions for curriculum change (p24, 71)
It’s a wonderful collection of vignettes and data that help to flesh out what we are often trying to impress on students are the real skills they need in preparing for legal practice environments.