Monday, June 29, 2015

Fixing Law Schools

Any reader of The Legal Watchdog -- or of ATL, LGM, OTLSS, LSTC, or 3TR, among others -- knows that law schools are desperately in need of reform.  But the problem is that most ideas for reform are pie-in-the-sky.  Why?  Because law schools are typically run by deans and professors and even clinical instructors who have never (or barely) practiced law, thus making serious reform a practical impossibility.  But reform, to some extent, can still happen.  And that's what I've written about in my latest essay, Three Rules for Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers.  Stay tuned for an upcoming podcast episode on the same topic; in the meantime, enjoy the essay!  And for those short on time, read the abstract after the jump:

Legal education reform is currently a hot topic. The most promising ideas involve elevating skills-based training from its current sideshow status (where it is taught by adjunct and clinical instructors) to a meaningful and integral part of the mainstream curriculum. This type of skills-based reform, however, not only faces some practical roadblocks, but also it glosses over legal education’s deeper, more fundamental problem: the failure to adequately train students in the underlying substantive and procedural law. To address this more immediate issue, this Essay recommends three basic rules for reform. First, professors should teach an actual body of law, instead of a cobbled-together, multistate mishmash of cases from a casebook. Second, professors should teach the complete body of law, including the many topics they mistakenly view as too pedestrian to warrant classroom time. Third, professors should publish scholarship that benefits the bench and bar, rather than the academy, thereby strengthening their understanding of the important subjects they teach their students. This Essay explains the incredible benefits that would flow to students from this proposed, three-part reform, and further demonstrates how these three rules for educating tomorrow’s lawyers can be implemented today, by the existing professoriate and without any structural changes to the existing legal education model.

Full article is available here; all of my articles are available here.  

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