January 20, 2007
Carnegie Foundation report on legal education
As if the LSSSE's Engaging Legal Education report was not enough grist for the law school innovation mill (details here), along comes a report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching entitled, Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law. Robert Ambrogi provides some highlights from the report in this post at Legal Blog Watch, and I hope to discuss the report in the near future once I have a chance to consume it fully.
UPDATE: Norm Pattis at Crime & Federalism has this potent reaction to the Carnegie report. Here is a portion:
The emphasis in legal education on such things as law reviews is a telling sign of why lawyers aren't educated well. Law review articles are fun to read, and law school professors are necessary. But the law is not reason made manifest in the world.
The life of the law, Holmes once reminded, is experience. And in the case of the life of a practicing lawyer, that experience often comes in the form of need that is impervious to reason.
Want better trained lawyers? Spend the third year of legal education outside the classroom. Require all lawyers to intern for a month or so in the local emergency room so that they can see the ordinary chaos that many folks call day-to-day living. Then send the lawyers for a month or so to a drug or alcohol rehabilitation clinic, where they can rub elbows with life-destroying need. Then send the lawyers to a psychiatric facility for or two. Top off the year with work in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
In each of these settings, assign the would-be lawyers the task of interviewing people. Let the lawyers identify one area of the interviewee's life in which legal advice is needed. Then let the would-be lawyers provide counsel.
That is the reality of the law the small firm practitioner. Nothing prepares lawyers for the need they face in their clients. And no classroom experience undertaken in the cool light of reason can prepare a lawyer for the emotional travail of a client in fear, terror or anger. So let's change lawyering education, but not by creating another breed of teachers who can pontificate about what they haven't done, and perhaps cannot do.
Posted by DAB
January 18, 2007
Snippets from LSSSE report
I want to thank Joe for highlighting the fascinating recent report from the 2006 Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE), entited Engaging Legal Education: Moving Beyond the Status Quo. The report is intriguing and quite reader-friendly, and is chock full of interesting findings for the would-be law school innovator.
In addition to encouraging everyone to read the report in full, I wanted to spotlight just a few notable findings that first caught my attention from the report (these are all direct quotes from the report):
- Student-faculty interaction was more strongly related to students' self-reported gains in analytical ability than time spent studying, cocurricular activities, or even the amount of academic effort they put forth.
- The vast majority of law students (88%) do not frequently work together with other students on projects during class. However, those students who do are more likely to report higher gains in several areas. For example, of the students who "very often" worked collaboratively, 39% felt that their legal education helped them acquire job or work-related knowledge and skills "very much." Of those students who "never" participated in collaborative in-class work, only 18% said the same.
- Nearly a third of 3L respondents (32%) reported that they had not done any pro bono or volunteer work during law school, and had no plans to do so.
- During the second and third years of law school, students who had a clinical internship or field experience or who did pro bono work report gaining more than other students in several desirable areas. These areas included higher order thinking skills, speaking and writing proficiency, and competence and confidence in solving complex realworld problems.
- Women and students of color were more likely to join and hold leadership positions in school-sponsored organizations. Women and students of color were just as likely as their male and White counterparts to participate in moot court. However, Black students were slightly underrepresented on law journals (10% participation versus 15% for Hispanic and Native American, 18% for multiracial, and 22% for Asian and White students).
Posted by DAB
January 17, 2007
LSSSE's Engaging Legal Education: Moving Beyond the Status Quo
Findings from 2006 Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE), Engaging Legal Education: Moving Beyond the Status Quo, show that how often law school students interact with their professors is strongly related to many desirable outcomes of legal education. The findings also indicate that students who participate in clinical and field experiences or who do pro bono work report gaining more than their peers in speaking and writing proficiency, thinking critically and analytically, and solving complex real-world problems.
The 2006 survey is based on information from more than 24,000 law students at 64 law schools and gives law schools an idea of how well students are learning, along with what students put into and get out of their law school experience. Joe Hodnicki
January 16, 2007
Does US News promote good or bad innovation?
Misreporting or selectively reporting statistics, firing deans, spending thousands on marketing; the law school rumor mill runs rampant with stories of law schools going to great lengths to boost their U.S. News & World Report ranks. How much is true, and why are schools willing to put it all on the line just to get a few points higher on the list?
As Paul notes, the story does not break any new ground (though the technology supporting web access to the National Jurist article seemed impressively innovative). Intriguingly, two high-profile law professor bloggers get their pictures and pull-out quotes in the piece.
Perhaps to provoke some discussion, let me make this somewhat provocative point about the impact of US News rankings on law school programming and activities: though I am sometimes troubled by how US News can impact law school programming and activities, I am far more troubled by how inertia and status quo biases impact law school programming and activities. As but one example, I suspect US News concerns about reputation scores has helpfully fueled interest in work-related blogging and on-line activities by law professors, while inertia and status quo biases have harmfully retarded these valuable activities.
Posted by DAB.
Globalizing the Law School Curriculum
On August 3rd and 4th of 2005, the Pacific McGeorge Center for Global Business and Development sponsored a workshop at Squaw Valley, California near Lake Tahoe. At this workshop, professors from thirty-one law schools in the United States and Canada met to discuss how to introduce international, transnational and comparative law issues into the core curriculum. This Report (PDF, 64 pp), published at 19 Pac. McGeorge Global Bus. & Dev. L.J. 267 (2006), provides a summary of those discussions. Joe Hodnicki