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October 31, 2007

Apperently being innovative means taking three years to produce a report on innovations

Today's New York Times has this article discussing curriculum reform ideas brewing at law schools.  Here are snippets:

Forget all the jokes about what should be done with the lawyers. What should be done with the law students?  That question is being tackled — seriously — at a variety of law schools around the country as they undertake a broad series of changes to their curriculums.

The changes range from requiring new courses for first-year students to expanding clinical programs to adding electives in the later years to encouraging law students to take courses in other graduate-level programs at their universities.  Harvard Law School announced last year that it would modify its venerable curriculum, and its cross-country rival, Stanford Law School, has begun making changes, too. Columbia Law School began modifying its curriculum in 2003, and the University of New Mexico School of Law made a series of changes starting three years ago and is weighing more.

“When you haven’t changed your curriculum in 150 years, at some point you look around,” said Elena Kagan, the dean of Harvard Law. The impetus for the changes is the sense that what has been taught and how it has been taught may be “embarrassingly disconnected from what anybody does,” Ms. Kagan said.  Those concerns were highlighted in a report on legal education published this year by the Carnegie Foundation....

The report has galvanized reflection at many law schools.  In December, Stanford Law will be the host of a meeting of representatives from 10 schools that have designed innovative curriculums, including the City University of New York School of Law, New York University School of Law and the University of Dayton School of Law.  After the meeting, the group will continue working toward a goal of producing a report in 2010, said Lawrence C. Marshall, a professor at Stanford Law who is coordinating the initiative.

Over at The Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr here reprints a colleague's "skeptical response" to the story.  I would add that, if it is going to take three years for a working group just to produce a report on possible curriculum innovations, can we expect any of these innovations to be implemented in our lifetime?

Posted by DAB

October 31, 2007 in Teaching -- curriculum | Permalink


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