Change is happening in law schools across the country. While most are evolving independently, many schools (71 percent, according to a Kaplan survey) are working toward the same end: developing new teaching methods and strategies that teach students skills that will give them an edge with employers. A recent U.S. News and World Report article highlights a few of these efforts, which emphasize practical skills training and a more hands-on understanding of what it means to be a lawyer.
Alli Gerkman, Director of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, was quoted in the article. Plenty of administrators are having conversations with employers about what should be taught, she said, which has led to new curriculum offerings and/or requirements that help bridge the gap between law school and law practice. And, several Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Consortium schools were featured as doing just that.
Professor Michael Madison, an ETL Fellow from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, was quoted in the article, saying that “soft” skills centered around leadership, teamwork, and what it means to represent a client are at the core of many of these new programs.
“Hard” skills in the areas of business and technology are also taking root as schools look to the future of legal practice and what new attorneys should be ready for in a rapidly changing world. According to Professor Michele DeStefano from the University of Miami School of Law, these skills are perfect for alternative legal positions beyond the traditional track. And, a lawyer’s grasp of technological solutions for firms and clients may prove very lucrative in just a few years’ time, said to ETL Fellow William Henderson of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law.
Washington and Lee University School of Law was cited in the article for its dedication to practice-based courses, which comprise the entirety of every student’s third year.
Exciting things are happening in the realm of legal education. And with a clear focus on students, these schools and many others are primed to lead the way.