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.
In a recent article for The Recorder, Rachel Van Cleave, dean of Golden Gate University School of Law, an Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Consortium School, champions the efforts of ETL and its collaborative approach to changing legal education. Dean Van Cleave suggests that experiential learning opportunities, like clinics and simulation courses, can be expanded even further to give students a more well-rounded education that exposes them to broader skill sets that are sought by law firms.
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.
Earlier this year, a local news channel praised the University of Miami’s Health and Elder Law Medical Legal Partnership in a piece entitled “Joining Forces.” The clinic, run in part by JoNel Newman of the University of Miami School of Law (an ETL Consortium school), takes an innovative approach to treating the legal and medical issues patients face when seeking care by assigning both a medical student and law student to each case.
One of my primary responsibilities as Counsel to the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court is to start and maintain dialogue among Colorado’s law schools, bench, and bar in an effort to find and promote commonality among their efforts to improve our state’s legal profession. Naturally, then, I was interested in attending the 2013 Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers conference, which sought to connect the legal academy and members of the legal profession.
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.
IAALS is very sad to note the passing of Professor Penelope Pether, of Villanova Law School. One of Penny’s areas of scholarship was the theory and practice of judging, and in that context she and I became friends. She had a particular interest in the process of appellate review, and Penny and I presented together on a couple of occasions on the subject of judicial performance evaluation. Penny was also involved with our Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Initiative, because she was an innovative legal educator. I will miss her energy, her enthusiasm, and her passion, but know that her legacy will live on.
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.
Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers announces its second annual conference, which will focus on connecting the profession and the academy to ensure that law graduates are prepared to begin a career of service to clients, service to the legal system, and service to society. Conference participants will focus on how to design and deliver a modern legal education that educates lawyers to the highest standards of competence and professionalism.
We are pleased to announce the newest member of our Consortium of law schools committed to innovation: Touro Law Center. Among Touro’s latest projects is its ProBono Uncontested Divorce Project, a required part of the experiential curriculum for first year students that also helps students to satisfy New York’s new pro bono requirements. Touro Law Center will join the rest of the Consortium in Denver, October 3-5, 2013, for our 2nd Annual Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference.
The American Bar Association’s 2013 Annual Meeting in San Francisco was a sprawling event with thousands of attendees spread out over 20 hotels and attending more than 200 continuing legal education programs and countless other meetings. Given all of this, it was interesting to watch as common themes began to emerge and thread the event and its participants together. One of those themes was legal education.
preLaw Magazine‘s 2013 Back to School issue highlights numerous achievements from our Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Consortium schools. In an article naming the top schools for externships around the country, several Consortium schools were ranked among the very top for their experiential opportunities and programs. The University of St. Thomas ranked #1, Northeastern University ranked #2, the University of Denver followed close at #8, with Southwestern University, the University of New Hampshire, Indiana University, and American University all ranking in the top 25.
Last week, during a town hall at Binghamton University, President Obama jumped into the legal education fray when he suggested that law schools could increase the value of a law degree without sacrificing its quality by moving from a three-year program to a two-year program. The two-year/three-year debate has been alive and well in legal education reform circles for some time, but the President’s comments catapulted the conversation into the national spotlight. What do you think?
According to a new book entitled “What the Best Law Teachers Do,” ETL Fellow and Professor Roberto Corrada of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law (an ETL Consortium school) is among the ranks of the twenty-six best legal educators in the United States. Each chapter of the book focuses on a how these professors achieve significant, positive, and long-term effects on their students, such as: how they relate to students, their methods of preparation, their teaching techniques, their delivery of feedback, and personal qualities that enhance their teaching.