Alli Gerkman became the first full-time Director of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, a national initiative to align legal education with the needs of an evolving profession, in May 2013. She joined IAALS in June 2011 as Online Content Manager, developing and managing all IAALS web properties, including Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, and became IAALS’ Director of Communications in August 2012. She brings significant professional development experience to the initiative, having spent five years in continuing legal education, first as a program attorney organizing multi-day conferences for a national provider and then as program attorney and manager of online content for Colorado Bar Association CLE. While at CBA-CLE, she developed an online legal resource that was the recipient of the Association of Continuing Legal Education’s 2011 Award of Professional Excellence for use of technology in education. She has written and presented nationally to continuing legal education providers, bar executives, and lawyers. Prior to her work in continuing legal education, she was in private practice.
In December, we began contacting state bar leaders across the country, asking them to send a survey to every lawyer in their state in an effort to get to the bottom of a seemingly simple inquiry: what are the foundations that entry-level lawyers need to practice law? With at least 31 states on board with the survey, we’re getting data that identifies the foundations—skills, competencies, characteristics, traits—the profession thinks are needed. This is big—and not just for law schools.
If you’re like most prospective students, there’s a good chance the U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings will play some kind of role in your decision about where to go to law school. We can all debate the merits of the rankings as a method for choosing a law school, but we can’t stop the world from clamoring for them. So until they’re announced, here are some things to keep you occupied.
Those of you who attended our conference last fall probably had a chance to talk with Elise Miller, Vice President of Research Programs at Access Group, who has been developing their new grant-making program that will support projects and research that aim to address the challenges facing legal education today. The deadline is January 31 for schools interested in applying for a grant through the unsolicited grants program.
ETL is about to release its first major report—a study of the Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program. The report is not even public yet, but it was already highlighted in the Wall Street Journal and criticized at Above the Law. Ultimately, if law schools are going to develop programs that better prepare students and if prospective students are going to rely on those programs, then legal employers must value them. And, we’re working on ways to help ensure that happens.
It’s been almost three-and-a-half years since we launched Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers. In that time, we have played a critical role in bringing the profession and the academy together to work toward collaborative solutions that will raise not only the institution of legal education, but also the legal profession. We are beginning 2015 with the launch of a new logo that captures this convergence and the many people who will play a role in this process.
In May, we launched Foundations for Practice, an ambitious project that will study the foundations entry-level lawyers need to launch successful careers, identify models of legal education to get us there, and develop hiring tools to help employers better match their needs with their hiring practices. This summer we also added a new member to the ETL team. Kevin Keyes is joining us as a Project Manager, working with us and our many partners on the first phase of the project.
In the world of choosing law schools, we have generic rankings and recommendations—including US News & World Report, and a number of others that have popped up over the years—which can provide a certain value, but they hardly give the whole picture. Last year, we launched Law Jobs: By the Numbers, an employment calculator that allows you to review school employment numbers based on the criteria you care about most—and with the new 2013 ABA employment numbers, we’ve made some big upgrades.
For the second year in a row, the U.S. News and World Report’s 2015 law school rankings have taken advantage of the rich employment data now made public by the American Bar Association. But as the Economist noted last week, the rankings have not yet made use of an interesting piece of data the ABA has published: whether student jobs reported by schools were funded by law schools.
Over at the Talent Code, Daniel Coyle talks about a trauma surgeon who described the best training session he ever witnessed: an unexpected, staged accident, complete with chaos, fake blood, and hidden victims. In law school there might not be much use for fake blood, but there are educators asking students to role play.
Professor Roberto Corrada of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law gives students a comprehensive understanding of administrative law through a unique, simulated experience inspired by the novel Jurassic Park. The course, Administrative Law: Dinosaur Park Simulation, is taught using the paradigm of “what if this actually happened.”
In his Voices from the Field interview, Bill Walters, Partner at Heizer Paul and former president of the Colorado Bar Association, suggests that law schools need to expose students to the various career options they have following law school, which extend far beyond the traditional big firm practice of law.
The New York State Bar Association is devoting a segment of its annual meeting to two themes that have emerged with increasing urgency in bar associations around the country: “Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers” and “Supporting Today’s Lawyers.” I’m here in New York to participate in person, but I just learned that you can tune in at 2:00 pm ET to view the full Presidential Summit, which serves as the centerpiece of the NYSBA’s week-long annual meeting.
Professor Steven Friedland of Elon University School of Law uses a problem-based teaching method to guide his required, upper-level Evidence Law course. Drawing upon his trial experience as a prosecutor, Friedland’s course is conducted as a form of “applied trial advocacy,” as opposed to the more traditional “case review” method. The full Evidence Law course portfolio is now available online.
In his Voices from the Field interview, John Walsh, U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, encourages legal education reformers to consider new strategies to help teach students more than just legal analysis and case reading, so that they have a better idea of what to expect when they walk into a courtroom as new attorneys.
In October, we had a room full of people abuzz with talk about the present state of legal education and its future. These were educators and practitioners who are already working together to change legal education to meet the needs of the profession. So it’s not a surprise that when we asked some of them three questions about legal education we got some very interesting answers. What are your answers? Tell us in the comments.
At our 2nd Annual Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference, we honored Bill Henderson with our Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Award. Afterward, he delivered a keynote address (video here) focused on the significance of the role played by legal educators and the change that is coming. Talking about his own experience with a professor as a later-in-life college senior, he said that educators have the power to “flip the switch.”
This year, we tried something new at the Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference. During the reception, we opened the floor to four short presentations by participants who wanted to share an idea with our audience of legal educators, practitioners, and judges. It was, by all counts, a resounding success and we plan to expand it next year. They were a conference highlight and certainly worth six minutes.
Professor John Lande of the University of Missouri School of Law gives students a realistic and comprehensive perspective on legal negotiation through a semester-long simulated experience in his Negotiation course. Lande describes his course as unique and particularly relevant to the legal profession because he uses multi-layered six-step negotiation hypotheticals to walk students through the entire negotiation process.
Since launch, nearly 60,000 calculations have been made using the calculator, which gives prospective law students the most transparent and complete law school employment rate information available. We were also featured prominently on the home page of the ABA’s website, and we made several improvements to the tool to make it even easier to use. Here are a few.
Last week, Bill Sullivan, lead author of Educating Lawyers and the founding director of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, did an interview with Insight Labs on the future of law, discussing legal education (and reform history), the Carnegie Report, experiential education, teaching judgment, the role of the profession, and the importance of law in society. It’s worth reading in full, but here’s a glimpse.
A couple years ago, Milbank Tweed announced Milbank@Harvard, billed as a “groundbreaking multi-year training program for Milbank associates” to give them broader context for the commercial matters they handle for clients everyday. This month, David Wolfson, a Milbank partner, talked more about the program with Lee Pacchia of Bloomberg.
Professor Anthony C. Infanti, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, uses a problem-based teaching method to expose students to the complex concept of international tax law. Through this course, Professor Infanti exposes students to what practicing international tax law is really like. The full course portfolio is now available online, including teaching objectives and outcomes, application tools, videos, course materials, and student work.
Much of the work on core competencies for entry-level lawyers has focused on large firms, often because it has been harder to collect this information from small firms. This is a challenge because small and medium firms continue to be major destinations for law school graduates. Today, in an open letter to law schools, longtime solo, Carolyn Elefant, demanded that law schools teach students to be employable by solos and small firms.
The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education has released its draft report, which includes proposals and conclusions about the pricing structure of law schools, liberalizing or eliminating accreditation certain standards, speeding the pace of innovation and practical skills training, and using non-lawyers for broader delivery of law-related services. Chair Randall T. Shepard will present the Task Force’s proposals to more than 80 legal educators at the 2nd Annual Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference in Denver on October 4.