Jeffrey Thaler, Visiting Professor and University Counsel at the University of Maine, recently published a paper on Meeting Law Students’ Experiential Needs in the Classroom: Building an Administrative Law Practicum Implementing the Revised ABA Standards. Thaler hopes others can use this approach to help students be ready to practice beyond the world of judges and juries.
Whether law students are practice-ready after graduation depends greatly upon whom you ask. In BARBRI’s first “State of the Legal Field Survey,” 70% of third-year law students thought they possessed “sufficient practice skills” and 76% believed they were ready to practice law “right now.” However, practitioners thought quite differently on the matter. Alli Gerkman weighs in on the discrepancies.
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.
New York has set its sights on access to justice and alleviating some of the issues that low-income litigants face needing help from justice system. In his annual State of the Judiciary address on February 17, New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman put forth a number of innovative methods for making the state’s judiciary more equitable and accessible.
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.
Last year, the ABA’s Student Lawyer featured Alli Gerkman and her advice for current law students. Gerkman discussed the value of building a personal network and the importance of making and fostering professional connections right from the get-go. “Your success and your ability to make an impact are limited only by the breadth and quality of your personal connections,” she said.
Law Week Colorado recently published an article highlighting Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers‘ report, Ahead of the Curve: Turning Law Students into Lawyers, which examines the Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. The collaboration exemplified by the program will pave the way for more successful innovations in legal education, according to Alli Gerkman.
Are law school graduates ready to enter the profession, engage in the practice, and serve clients? Many law schools have developed more robust experiential training in recent years. One such program is educating law students who are outperforming their colleagues in the field who have been licensed to practice law for up to two years, according to a study conducted by Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers.
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.
We would like to extend our congratulations to Jon Streeter for his confirmation to California’s First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco. He was sworn in on January 5. Jon has been a friend to IAALS for several years, working closely with Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers. We are thrilled for him—and we look forward to seeing how his new perspective in the judicial branch informs his insights and leadership in legal education, and the evolution of the profession more broadly.
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.
Like the United States, the United Kingdom has historically faced a lack of legal representation for low income individuals. The apparent lack of resources in both countries has highlighted a perceived remedy: law students working with those in need of legal services. While many people view this solution as beneficial for society, law schools, and students, others have warned against law schools taking up the slack because students still need an opportunity to learn.
Professor Neil W. Hamilton of the University of St. Thomas School of Law recently published an article that analyzes empirical research on the competencies that legal employers and clients are looking for in new lawyers. For the article, Professor Hamilton surveyed four types of employers: larger law firms, small firms, county attorneys, and legal aid offices. He found all four groups highly valued certain competencies, dubbing them “professional formation competencies.”
This Thursday and Friday, November 6-7, 2014, the Law School Survey of Student Engagement’s (LSSSE) “Data and Assessment in Legal Education: The Necessities, The Possibilities” symposium will be held at Saint Louis University School of Law. Alli Gerkman, Director of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, will be presenting on a panel about “Using Data to Demonstrate and Improve the Value of Legal Education.”
Professor Debra Moss Curtis has published an article calling for legal educators to look at other programs in higher education, as well as experts who study education, as guidance when considering reform within legal education. The article outlines suggestions that “should be considered by every institution,” many of which align with the mission, work, and recommendations of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers.
“Big dreams, hard work, and serendipity” are the words Judge Christine M. Arguello would use to describe how she achieved her professional successes as a lawyer and judge. But, she also acknowledges the help of various mentors and the support of academic institutions throughout her career. In order to help the next generation, Judge Arguello founded Law School – Si Se Puede, a pipeline program that advances inclusiveness in the legal profession.
Law Professor Cara Cunningham Warren has written a paper about “Achieving the American Bar Association’s Pedagogy Mandate.” In order for professors to meet with ABA expectations, they will have to come up with new approaches to assessing student learning—something that was recently discussed the 2014 Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference.
Last month, Suffolk University Law School, an Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Consortium school, hosted the first-ever “Hackcess to Justice” legal hackathon. The event was designed to bring together some of the best legal and technological minds to brainstorm and devise ways to improve access to justice using technology.
This Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (September 18-20), I will be attending the 3rd Annual Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference, which will focus on “Accelerating Competency: Assessment in Legal Education.” I’ll be keeping you updated throughout each day with live tweets on conference happenings and discussions taking place—so even if you can’t join us, you can follow along online using hashtag #ETLConference.
Chad G. Asarch recently wrote an article discussing the Real Estate Transactions course he teaches, which emphasizes practical legal skills in a non-clinical, traditional classroom setting. In contemplating the structure of the course, Asarch analyzed the actual work practicing lawyers undertake in representing a client in a real estate transaction, and class assignments were designed to make students perform these tasks.
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.
Law Week Colorado recently published an article detailing the launch of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers’ Foundations for Practice project. The goal of the project is to give law schools more information about the skills, competencies, characteristics, and traits—referred to as “foundations”—that real-world practitioners say graduates need to be successful. Once these foundations are identified, law schools can then incorporate them more fully.
Professor and ETL Fellow John Lande of the University of Missouri School of Law has helped bring together a new collection of resources for law school professors who teach Alternative Dispute Resolution or who use ADR simulations in their classes. The website is intended to be a place where professors can learn about multi-stage simulations while sharing their own ideas and experiences using them.