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IAALS Online National Conversations About Continuous Improvement of the American legal System

Associate Dean of Experiential Education Shares Practical Learning Educational Model

Marnee Baker Posted in Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers®

The national dialogue about changing legal education has proposed many ideas aimed at making the system better, one of which being the outright elimination of the third year of law school. In the wake of this consideration, Luke Bierman, the Associate Dean for Experiential Education at Northeastern University School of Law, offers Northeastern’s Cooperative Legal Education Program (co-op) as an effective, alternative model that makes better use of all three years spent in law school. Northeastern’s co-op model provides students with four quarter-length full-time jobs by the time they graduate. The idea is that by integrating classroom study with co-ops, clinics, and other experiential education, their graduates are better prepared for the world of practice.

In his Voices from the Field interview, Bierman suggests that we need to find ways to integrate the experience that students have, and that now is the time. He notes:

I think what the real challenge though, currently, is to figure out ways that are cost-efficient to bring all of those kinds of experiences into the classroom and then get the students out of the classroom. We need to find ways to integrate the experience that students have. We need to think about ways that the students can get doctrine, and practice, and experience all in the same kind of moment, in an integrated manner. I think that’s the real challenge.

Bierman also serves as an Advisory Committee member to Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers.

Luke Bierman is the Associate Dean for Experiential Education and Distinguished Professor of Practice of Law at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston. He oversees the School of Law’s innovative and unique curriculum that combines theory and practice, including the Cooperative Legal Education Program, Clinics, and the Legal Skills in Social Context first-year course, ensuring students are ready to practice with the full complement of knowledge, skills, and ethical and social values necessary to serve clients and the public interest, now and in the future. 

Bierman served as general counsel to the New York state comptroller, as founding director of the Justice Center and special assistant to the President of the American Bar Association, and as law clerk to justices and as chief attorney of the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department. Bierman also has taught at Albany Law School, Northwestern University School of Law, the University at Albany, and Trinity College in Hartford.