or 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.
Change is happening in law schools across the country. While most are evolving independently, many schools 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 from Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Consortium schools, which emphasize practical skills training and a more hands-on understanding of what it means to be a lawyer.
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.
Chief Judge Johnathan Lippman of the New York Court of Appeals has announced a new program designed to allow third-year law students to sit for the bar exam in February, so long as they devote their final semester to pro bono work. Ideally, the program will give indigent clients more access to legal representation, while also helping students gain the practical legal experience needed upon graduation from law school.
The National Jurist has named its top 60 law schools that offer practical training, including a number of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Consortium schools. The rankings were determined by the number of clinic positions per enrollment, the number of field placements or externships per enrollment, the number of simulation courses per enrollment, and additional information about practical training offerings.
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 The Docket, Barbara Mueller discusses the 2nd Annual Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference as a window into the ongoing discussions of legal education reform that are taking place nationwide. At one session, a panel of law school deans from across the country discussed a number of such approaches that their law schools are undertaking.
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.
Dean Rachel Van Cleave of Golden Gate University School of Law recently published an article discussing the optimism of current law students and the responsibility of law schools to “have the courage to make our students’ success our first priority.” She advocates for law schools to commit to their students by providing them an education that matches their enthusiasm.
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.
We are excited to announce that two new law schools have joined the Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Consortium: Loyola University Chicago and Georgia State University. Members of the Consortium demonstrate significant institutional commitment to reforming legal education through innovation, which can include Carnegie-inspired teaching methods, student-centered instruction, and tackling the core competencies that new attorneys need to practice.
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.
Harvard Law School’s “Case Studies Blog” recently featured the University of Denver Sturm College of Law’s Lawyering Process Program as one that helps students begin to develop their identities as lawyers in the first year of law school. Lawyering Process retains all of the traditional research and writing instruction, while also integrating problem solving, practical simulations, self-reflection, and feedback from professors, peers, and practitioners.
Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers announces a newly expanded and integrated collection of online legal education resources. These innovative teaching tools give law schools and professors the means to reevaluate classes and curriculum from the ground up, and are designed to help law schools ensure that their students are prepared for the demands of an evolving profession.
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.
The ETL survey found that many law schools have been making changes in their curricula, and among the prominent areas of change are the curricula in the second and third years of law school and the introduction or expansion of course work focused on practical skills (especially the creation of new clinics and certificate programs). We need research that looks at such programs in detail to see what difference, if any, that they make.
We all know the story here: law graduates are having difficulty getting jobs after spending a good chunk of money on tuition. So, what are we to do? We must change the nature of teaching and the programs taught to address two key issues: (a) the standard methodology of law school instruction is failing (the Socratic method); and (b) whatever is being taught at law schools does not interest employers post-graduation.