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.
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.