December 9, 2006
Apprenticeship as Part of Legal Education
I have spent more time than I probably should have the last few days pondering Doug Berman's suggestion below that schools might ban or discourage 3d years from traditional lecture courses, directing them instead to externships, clinicals, seminars, and similar forms of study. I think it is a very compelling idea, in that it propels us back towards our roots in legal education -- the idea of apprenticeship.
In Abraham Lincoln's day, lawyers were trained primarily by serving as apprentices to working attorneys. This training method emphasized a close relationship with a mentor and an emphasis on experiential knowledge. It seems that we have now hit the opposite extreme; legal education too often offers few close relationships between student and teacher, and the case method of learning has broken the link between what we teach and "real life" to the point that students usually don't know what happened to the people in the stories they read.
Not surprisingly, students seem to crave more one-on-one and small-group instruction and experiences that bring them closer to the realities of practice. Of the types of instruction Doug listed, including clinicals, externships, and seminars, what they have in common is the possibility of bringing at least some aspects of apprenticeship back into legal education. It may be the right time to move in that direction.
-- Mark Osler
Innovating in sports
The WSJ Law Blog has this great post entitled "The Heisman Trophy, Archie Griffin & the Law," which provides a link to this great New York Times article about John William Heisman. The post spotlights that Coach Heisman earned an L.L.B. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1892 and thereafter became a football innovator largely responsible for the forward pass, the "hike" vocal signal, the audible, and even the scoreboard. Especially as I anticipate another Heisman Trophy for a Buckeye, this post got me to thinking about whether and when a "forward pass" type innovation might arrive at law schools.
Posted by DAB
December 7, 2006
reader brainstorm: Law School teaches you to [verb] like a lawyer
In 2002, Dean Nancy Rapoport of the University of Houston Law Center critiqued the commonplace that law schools should teach students to "think like lawyers." "No one expects a doctor to 'think' like a doctor when she leaves medical school. We expect her to be a doctor."1 More recently, Dean Stephen Friedman of Pace University riffed off this quote to argue for more practice-oriented education. "I believe that for most students and most law schools, the raison d'etre of legal educational is to educate and train students to be effective new lawyers, not to teach them how to "think like a lawyer" or to give them substantive expertise or skills training."2
Deans Rapoport and Friedman make compelling cases, but I seek more clarity on the meaning of the verb "to be" in the sentence, "Law schools should teach students to be effective lawyers."
Therefore, this Mad Libs post invites readers to consider what other verbs might better describe your own mission as teachers in the formula, "Law school teaches students to ____ like lawyers." Here are a few possibilities for getting started:
- Law school teaches students to write like lawyers.
- Law school teaches students to behave ethically like lawyers.
- Law school teaches students to manage a practice [...like lawyers?]
1 Nancy B. Rapoport, Is "Thinking Like a Lawyer" Really What We Want to Teach?, 1 J. of the Assoc. of Legal Writing Directors 91, 92 (2002).
December 6, 2006
Readings for the law school innovator?
I want to start assembling a reading list for would-be law school innovators. Such a list should, of course,include lots of classics and modern pieces. While readers perhaps use the comments to suggest classics, here is a modern piece by Carol Parker. Her article is entitled "Institutional Repositories and the Principle of Open Access: Changing the Way We Think About Legal Scholarship" and is available here at SSRN. Here is part of the abstract:
Open access to scholarship, that is, making scholarship freely available to the public via self-archiving in online institutional repositories (IR's), is a natural fit for legal scholarship given our tradition of making legal information available to citizens. Legal scholars have enjoyed the benefits of open access to working paper repositories such as SSRN for more than ten years — even if they have not thought of this practice as "open access." It is a natural progression for legal scholars to now self-archive published articles as well, and they are beginning to do so as awareness grows of the benefits of providing open access to legal scholarship. IR's generate new audiences for legal scholarship and the publicity and download counts generated by repositories provide new ways to measure scholarly impact and reputation. IR's can be used to publish student scholarship, empirical data, teaching materials, and original historical documents uncovered during the research process. IR's also preserve digital work. Approximately 40% of U.S. law schools now have some form of institutional repository.
December 4, 2006
An Overview of CALI
John Mayer, the Executive Director of CALI, prepared the following three screencasts as part of a presentation he gave last week. I thought they might be of interest here since they give a good overview of where CALI is at today and where are headed in the coming months.
Legal Ed in a Networked World: what's at stake?
update: Log in to the webcast here (RealMedia) or via Berkman Island (Second Life)
(un)Common Knowledge is happening this Thursday night at 6pm (details). The panelists for the event had a fruitful and intriguing preparatory conversation this morning. While our moderator, Prof. Charlie Nesson, is framing the specific questions for our panel, the discussion will certainly touch on some of the following issues:
- What are the new skills demanded by a technology-enhanced practice? Consider two new practices: (1) e-discovery, which has made it possible for lawyers to sift through of millions of emails and documents; and (2) huge, multi-office teams, which are tackling both more complex but also more discrete issues. The first is one of many examples of computers as intelligence augmentation; the second illustrates technology as network augmentation.
- What are the technical skills? Are our new associates as computer-literate as we claim?
- What are the cognitive/conceptual skills? Are successful lawyers also necessarily systems- and "meta"-level thinkers?
- What are the social skills? What collaboration and teamwork skills do legal workplaces demand today?
- What "anti-skills" or attitudes should young attorneys cultivate? How do lawyers prevent themselves from becoming isolated techno-drones?
- Does a networked and "databased" environment shift power away from the teacher (someone who creates and controls an educational experience) to the learner (someone who will seek knowledge/information as s/he sees fit)? Do we have any choice in this matter?
- Can traditional distance learning techniques bridge a different gap than geography: that between practice and the academy?
- How can clinical programs serve not just as opportunities for practice, but also opportunities for technology-enabled practice?
- Can technology enable or enhance simulations as a pedagogical tool?
- How do sophisticated networks and networking tools enable lawyers, law professors, and even law students to aggregate and disseminate crucial knowledge? Is the teacher's role diminished or changed in this environment?
For anyone who is interested in the above topics, we encourage you to attend live or virtually via webcast or Second Life. Please go to the official event page for physical, web-streaming, and Second Life attendance details. For virtual participants, note that we will be using the Question Tool to collect and funnel questions to Prof. Nesson and the panelists to include your participation as much as possible. We will also make recordings of this event available to the public if the timing of this event just doesn't work out whatever the means of attendance.
We intend for this event to spark more questions and discussions rather than seek definitive answers. I would love to hear any thoughts people may already have on these topics through comments here.
- Gene Koo (crosspost from VVVV).