July 25, 2012

The National Jurist produces list of "most innovative law school"

Via e-mail, I received word of this new annoucement from The National Jurist:

Law schools are pushing the boundaries of the traditional law school model and experimenting at a level that legal education has not seen for several years, a new story reveals.

The National Jurist invited every law school in the U.S. to submit a nomination for how it is innovating its curriculum. More than 40 schools responded, showing that schools are experimenting with boot camps, mentoring programs, technology and programs that mirror the medical school model.

“We were surprised and impressed by the level of innovation today,” said Jack Crittenden, Editor In Chief of The National Jurist. “Legal educators are no longer just talking about change — they are taking the first steps to make it happen.”...

The National Jurist will publish all of the honorees in the Back to School issue of preLaw magazine, due out in late August.  It will also publish details about each school on its website in August.  Here is the list in alphabetical order:

  • Elon University School of Law
  • Hamline University School of Law
  • Indiana University Maurer School of Law
  • Loyola Law School Los Angeles
  • New York Law School
  • Ohio Northern University
  • Pennsylvania State University The Dickinson School of Law
  • Phoenix School of Law
  • Stanford Law School
  • Southwestern Law School
  • Syracuse University College of Law
  • Thomas Jefferson School of Law
  • Tulane University Law School
  • University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • University of Denver Sturm College of Law
  • University of District of Columbia
  • University of Hawai’i
  • University of Illinois College of Law
  • University of North Carolina
  • University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

In part because necessity is the mother of invention, I am not surprised to see on this list a number of schools that are surely struggling in the new tighter market for law jobs and law students. That said, I am looking forward to seeing the forthcoming full National Jurist article discussing just what makes these 20 schools especially innovative.

Posted by DAB

July 25, 2012 in Deans and innovations, The mission of law schools | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 12, 2012

"Yale launches Ph.D. in Law to train aspiring professors"

The title of this post is the headline of this new article in The National Law Journal reporting on the (innovative?) new approach to be tried by Yale Law School to train the next generation of law professors. Here are the basic details:

Interested in becoming a law professor? Yale Law School has a program for you.

The school plans what administrators said will be the first Ph.D. in Law.  The program is designed for students holding a J.D. from a U.S. law school who want to teach law. Students will spend three years learning how to produce scholarly research and writing; will take teaching classes; and will teach courses themselves.

Yale already produces a disproportionately high percentage of law professors in the United States, given its relatively small size — about 10 percent claim a J.D. from the New Haven, Conn., institution.

But legal academia has become a tougher nut to crack in recent years, said Yale Law Dean Robert Post, particularly because law schools want professors with a deeper portfolio of academic writing and research.  A few years of practice experience is no longer enough to get a foot in the door at many schools, and job candidates with Ph.D.s are in demand, he said....

Law graduates with an interest in teaching often pursue Ph.D.s in areas such as philosophy, political science, history or economics, but "it's a little hard to get them back into legal scholarship," Post said.  Some law schools offer postgraduation fellowships that provide time to research and write, but they don't offer much instruction in producing academic research.

Yale's program will offer training in research and writing without losing students to other academic disciplines, Post said.  The law school is still ironing out the details, but students will have to write a dissertation, sit for qualifying exams, take classes on teaching and teach two courses.

Yale received funding for the program from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and alumna Meridee Moore, who founded Watershed Asset Management LLC. Students won't have to pay tuition and will receive a cost-of living stipend, Post said.  The program will start accepting applications this fall and will open during fall 2013.  Post said he expects to accept about five students per year, eventually working up to a total enrollment of 15.

"I think this offers a very exciting combination of law school and graduate school," Post said.  "We very much hope it will fill a need."

I share Dean Post's view that this new Yale Ph.D. program wll be an "exciting combination of law school and graduate school," and I think the program will fill a gap in existing law school programming.  That said, I do not think it is quite right to suggest this program will fill a "need" as suggested by Dean Post:  in my view, the law school universe right now does not really need more or even more thoroughly trained Ph.D. law professors. 

Though I am disinclined to assert that there are already too many law professors, I am eager to assert that there are already too many law professors who have spent relatively too much time in school and relatively too little time in legal practice.

July 12, 2012 in Deans and innovations, Teaching -- pedagogy, The mission of law schools | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 09, 2012

Wash. U. innovates with online law masters programs

I am intrigued to see this new article from the New York Times concerning showing the details of a real law school innovation coming from the Show Me State.   The article it headlined "Law School Plans to Offer Web Courses for Master’s," and here are excerpts:

The law school of Washington University announced Tuesday that it would offer, entirely online, a master’s degree in United States law intended for lawyers practicing overseas, in partnership with 2tor, an education technology company.

Legal education has been slow to move to online classes, and the new master’s program is perhaps the earliest partnership between a top-tier law school and a commercial enterprise.

“We don’t know where the students are going to come from exactly, but we believe there is demand abroad for an online program with the same quality that we deliver in St. Louis, accessible to people who can’t uproot their lives to come to the United States,” said Kent D. Syverud, the dean of the law school, which currently offers students on campus a Master of Law degree, or LL.M., in United States law for foreign lawyers. “It’s not designed to prepare students for the bar exam.”

Nonetheless, graduates of the new program, which will include live discussions via webcam and self-paced online materials, would probably be eligible to take the California bar exam.

Washington University will share the revenues from the $48,000 program — the same tuition paid by students at the St. Louis campus — with 2tor, which will provide marketing, the Web platform and technical support, including a staff member to monitor each live class and deal with any technical problems that arise.

2tor, a four-year-old company based in Maryland, has partnerships in place with the University of Southern California, Georgetown and the University of North Carolina for online graduate degree programs in education, business, public administration and nursing....

A growing number of law schools offer online master’s degrees in specialized areas of law, like taxation, health care, estate planning, the environment or business transactions. Florida Coastal School of Law, a commercial school, offers a master’s in United States law, created, like the Washington University program, for international lawyers.

New York University Law School’s online Executive LL.M in Tax program enrolls more than 100 students, mostly from the United States, with a smattering from other countries. “Online students can see videos of all the brick-and-mortar classes,” said Joshua D. Blank, faculty director of the graduate tax program, which has been available online since 2008. “We use the same technology Netflix uses to watch movies online. Now that there’s the technology to do this, I think there’s a lot of room for these programs to grow.”...

Classes will be kept small and, Mr. Syverud said, will re-create the discussion between students and professors that characterizes most in-person legal education. Mr. Syverud said he hoped to enroll 20 students in the first group, starting in January, and have four groups a year, totaling more than 100 students.

Posted by DAB

May 9, 2012 in Deans and innovations, Technology -- in the classroom, The mission of law schools | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 16, 2012

"While legal academia dithers over reform, the profession may be passing them by"

The title of this post is the sub-heading of this new piece in The National Law Journal, which carries the main headline "What is law school for, anyway?". The piece is a must-read for all would-be law school innovators, and here are excerpts:

The state of the profession has not traditionally been a focus of law professors, said George Washington University Law School professor Thomas Morgan, author of the book The Vanishing American Lawyer.  That remained true until about one year ago, when more people within the academy started taking note of the rumblings within the profession, he said. "We need to try and bridge what is a mutual set of problems," Morgan said.

Still, there remains a gap between the magnitude of change advocated by some within the profession and the modest innovations law schools are pursuing.  Those innovations include a wider array of clinics, harnessing technology in simulations and student projects, and teaching transactional lawyering skills.

"I think they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," said Susan Hackett, chief executive officer of consulting firm Legal Executive Leadership and former general counsel of the Association of Corporate Counsel.  "The discussion seems to be, 'Let's add a Thursday evening extra-credit course on the legal profession that meets for a couple of hours.' That's just tweaking around the edges."

Instead, Hackett suggested a re-engineering of law curricula to include an initial phase of core courses followed by a year of executive education-style classes covering topics including business skills, legal technology and behavioral management.  The final phase would involve clinics or externships in law firms, legal departments, government agencies or nonprofit organizations.  These could replace the traditional law firm summer associateships and would be more substantive, she said.

Missing in the conversation was any focus on what skills corporate clients actually want in their lawyers, Hackett said, such as the ability to solve problems and understand financial statements.  "I truly think there are a significant number of people in legal education who think that what a client wants is irrelevant," she said.  "They just want to teach the law."

Others warned that framing the discussion solely in terms of what large law firms and corporate clients want ignores that the vast majority of law school graduates don't work in so-called Big Law, but rather in small firms, solo practice, government or nonprofits — or even as nonlawyers.  Identifying exactly what skills and knowledge students should take away from law school is more complicated than critics suggest, said University of Richmond School of Law Dean Wendy Perdue and Northeastern University School of Law Dean Emily Spieler.

Posted by DAB

January 16, 2012 in Deans and innovations, Legal profession realities and developments, The mission of law schools | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 22, 2011

IAALS launches new program called "Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers"

6059929829_79278f1731 Via e-mail I received this annoucement of note about legal education reform, which gets started this way:

The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) at the University of Denver today launches a unique, national initiative to change the way law schools educate students. “Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers” provides a platform to encourage law schools in the U.S. to showcase innovative teaching to produce more practice-ready lawyers who can better meet the needs of an evolving profession.

Rebecca Love Kourlis is the Executive Director of IAALS and a former Colorado Supreme Court justice. “Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers leverages the Carnegie Model of learning,” Kourlis says. “Our project provides support for shared learning, innovation, ongoing measurement and collective implementation. We are very excited to launch this project to encourage new ways to train law students and to measure innovation in the years to come.”

William M. Sullivan is the Director of “Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers.” He also is the lead author of the 2007 Carnegie Foundation report, Educating Lawyers. “Our goal is to encourage law schools that are already committed to innovation to share what they know in a structured, collaborative place so that other law professors may discuss and develop new teaching techniques,” Sullivan says.

IAALS will manage this initiative, the first of its kind in the country. The initiative is partnering with a growing number of law schools in a consortium committed to innovative teaching.

The website for Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers is interesting and seems to have some useful contents, though I do not yet see just why the website (or this companion blog) ought to become a regular stop for law professors or law students.

Posted by DAB

August 22, 2011 in Deans and innovations, Teaching -- curriculum, Teaching -- pedagogy, Teaching Resources, The mission of law schools | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 06, 2010

"Would Law School Warning Labels Help?"

The title of this post is the headline of this interesting new piece from The National Law Journal, which gets started this way:

People smoke.  People speed.  They don't exercise or get enough sleep.  They go to law school. By now, everyone is aware of the consequences of these actions.  In fact, they have known them for some time.  The question is: who is responsible?

Placing blame is, after all, a central component of the law.  In the case of what ails legal education, however, it is not very easy to assign.

I had the privilege of speaking with a variety of industry thought leaders on this topic for a research study on The Evolution of the Legal Profession (pdf) (sponsored by DiscoverReady).  They identified two reasons that individuals assume the debt to go to law school without a full awareness of the potential outcomes.

First, most prospective law students sincerely believe they will graduate in the top 10 percent of the class.  "You sign the loan papers with the idea that it will all pay off and it is the idealized big firm life that allows people to take debt," notes Indiana University Maurer School of Law Professor William Henderson.  He recommends that the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar direct schools to walk students through the application process more carefully to conduct an intelligent analysis of their career prospects.

Second, law school applicants are generally naive consumers of debt.  "As soon as tuition rose to a level where people had to borrow significant sums in order to go to law school, you had students with no experience taking out loans, repaying them or understanding what it means to have debt," says University of Miami School of Law Dean, Patricia White. "It was a little bit like the foreclosure crisis and the mortgage debacle," she adds.

These seem like plausible explanations given the decreasing level of zeal amongst budding barristers, evidenced by the recent examples of individuals trying to sell or return their law degrees, and the increasing number of applicants.

To address this disparity, last fall, in her first year as dean, White sent accepted applicants who had already paid their full non-refundable deposit a unique letter that generated national attention.  In it, she asked, them to reconsider their choice of attending law school.  The dean offered them the option to defer their admission for one year to further reflect on their chosen path.  Of the 32 students who accepted her offer, only eight enrolled this year.

November 6, 2010 in Deans and innovations, Legal profession realities and developments, Serving students | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 23, 2009

ABA Journal provides review of state of new Irvine law school

The August 2009 Issue of the ABA Journal has this new piece on the new UC law school, which is titled "Irvine by Erwin: Can a top legal academic create a law school that is both innovative and elite?".  The piece highlights innovations in various ways, as highlighted by this snippet:

With its first class — which has a median GPA of 3.65 and a median LSAT score of 167 — descending on campus this month, the 56-year-old Chemer­insky’s ambition is about to be put to the test. Can UC Irvine be both among the best law schools and among the most innovative?

If not, it will not be for lack of trying.  “There isn’t a need for another law school that replicates the others that are there,” Chemerinsky says.  “We have the wonderful benefit of a blank slate and the chance to create the ideal law school for the 21st century.”

UC Irvine will include an interdisciplinary curriculum and a mandatory semester in one of the planned eight law clinics.  Students will be required to conduct intake interviews for legal aid clients and to study international law in the first year — a subject that is merely optional in the upper classes at most schools.

Another innovation is the course titled “The Legal Profession.”  The two-semester class will bring in speakers from many areas of practice “so that students can gain a sense of the different kinds of work the profession does,” according to an online description of the curriculum.

Chemerinsky wants to maximize “serendip­itous interaction with faculty and students.”  That’s why lounge chairs sit outside the faculty offices, so the students don’t have to sit on the floor while waiting. The chairs are arranged in groups to encourage discussion.

Rocking chairs, modeled after one owned by librarian Beatrice Tice’s mother, will be placed near the library windows to promote serenity.  Reproductions of paintings of SoCal scenery, copied from some on view in the Orange County Art Museum, will further the Zen vibe.

The innovations extend beyond the learning environment.  Each student will be assigned a practicing lawyer as a mentor.  Financial planners will be invited to campus to help students with budgeting and — for those in the second class and beyond — managing the burden of law school loans.  Students will have multimedia portfolios to show potential employers, in addition to ordinary resumés.  They’ll receive grades, but there will be no class rankings.

July 23, 2009 in Deans and innovations | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 02, 2009

"Wanted: Law School Deans -- Lots of Them"

The title of this post is the title of this intriguing article in The National Law Journal.  Here are some snippets:

Even in this economy, there seems to still be a demand for one high-paying job: law school dean. At least 27 law schools throughout the country are searching for new deans, and many are having a tough time filling the position.

Law schools from Harvard to the University of Arizona to Case Western to the University of Miami have all embarked on dean searches, and some are finding somewhat slim pickings, with the same applicants recycled for many of the jobs.

That's because law school deanships, once highly sought after, are now high-stress jobs, thanks in part to the economy. With fundraising plummeting, donors in short supply and state budgets being slashed, law school deans are finding themselves up to their necks in stress. Many have quit in the past year to go back to teaching, which still pays fairly well and has far fewer headaches....

The old model for finding a dean was to look internally at one's best professors, according to Susan Prager, executive director and chief executive officer of the Association of American Law Schools. That has been replaced in the past couple of decades by the model of hooking a dean or associate dean at a better law school, to give one's school cachet.  "You try to go up the pecking order," Jarvis said.

But in the past year or so, schools -- either unsatisfied with the crop of candidates or unable to persuade top choices to take the jobs -- appear to be reverting to the old model.

In addition to noting the ways in which a tough economy impacts law school hiring, this article led me to wonder whether any of the schools search for a dean might consider getting creative and innovative in their efforts. 

In this context, recall that Duke recently turned to a member of the federal judiciary to fill its top spot.  Might other schools have success convincing (supposedly underpaid) federal judges to come to the academy?  Or how about state judges?  Or how about all the lawyers leaving government service with the change of federal Administrations? 

Indeed, last I heard, former AG Alberto Gonzales was still looking for a job.  Particularly if a school looking to grab some headlines and generate some buzz, a search committee could do a lot worse than considering even controversial lawyers who are not among the usual dean suspects.  Just a thought.

Posted by DAB

February 2, 2009 in Deans and innovations | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 31, 2008

What does everyone think about free tuition and other early UC-Irvine innovations?

Last week the AP had this story, headlined "SoCal law school tempts students with free tuition," about the efforts by UC-Irvine to get a flying start with top students in its first class.  Here are snippets from the story:

A new law school opening next fall in Southern California is offering a big incentive to top students who might be thinking twice about the cost of a legal education during the recession: free tuition for three years.

The financial carrot is part of an ambitious strategy by Erwin Chemerinsky, a renowned constitutional law scholar and dean of the new school at the University of California, Irvine, to attract Ivy League-caliber students to the first public university law school in the state in 40 years.

Scholarship winners will be chosen for their potential to emerge three years later as legal stars on the ascendance. Only the best and brightest need apply, but the school hopes to offer full scholarships to all 60 members of its inaugural class in 2009. Subsequent classes will be on a normal tuition basis.

Chemerinsky is convinced the prospect of free education, combined with a public-interest curriculum and the University of California moniker, will quickly fill his first class and eventually land Irvine among the nation's best law schools. "Our goal is to be a top 20 law school from the first time we are ranked," he said....

Chemerinsky said he has made substantial progress toward raising the $6 million needed to fund full scholarships for his inaugural class. He's promising students a unique educational program with hands-on experience in legal clinics and eventual job interviews with more than 70 law firms, public interest law organizations and government offices.

Still, in a society seemingly overloaded with lawyers, the question arises: Do we need another law school to churn out more lawyers? "There isn't a need for another law school like all the rest," Chemerinsky answers. "This is our chance to create the ideal law school for the 21st century."

I have not been following closely the development of UC-Irvine School of Law, but I was intrigued to see lots of talk of innovation at its official website.  In particular, one section of the site discusses "Our Difference" with these entries:

I would be really interested in hearing from anyone following closely the UC-Irvine experiment with early assessments about how things are going there.

Posted by DAB

December 31, 2008 in Deans and innovations | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 21, 2008

The University of Louisville's law faculty SSRN aggregator page

»  Reprinted from The Cardinal Lawyer and MoneyLaw  «

The University of Louisville is justifiably proud of its law faculty and of the high-impact academic work generated by this community of scholars.  In earlier posts (like this and this and this), The Cardinal Lawyer has made much of SSRN.Despite its small size, and despite having taken active part in SSRN for less than two years, the University of Louisville ranks 41st among American law schools in recent SSRN downloads and 57th in all-time downloads as of October 12, 2008.

Many law professors and some law schools make an effort to promote papers available for download from SSRN.  The University of Louisville has taken aggressive measures to promote its entire faculty's SSRN portfolio.  Louisville publishes an SSRN aggregator page that collects every faculty member's contributions to the SSRN database as they are made.  A summary of each article, complete with a link to that article's own SSRN page, appears on the aggregator page.  And best of all, in harmony with Law 2.0 and the thoroughly interconnected environment in which contemporary legal education operates, the University of Louisville's faculty SSRN aggregator page has its own RSS feed .

ouisville's own SSRN aggregator page complements but does not replace the University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series on SSRN.  This series has its own subscription mechanism.  Like other subscribers, I receive periodic updates by e-mail and can click through to my colleagues' most recent work.

Judith Fischer

One byproduct of Louisville's faculty-wide SSRN aggregator is an individual SSRN aggregator page for each member of the faculty.  Consider, for example, the SSRN treasure troves associated with my colleague, Judith D. Fischer. Judy's University of Louisville-generated SSRN aggregator page and regular SSRN page testify to a prolific and creative mind.  For my own part, I am considering the possibility of linking to my own UofL-generated SSRN aggregator page wherever I have already seen fit to promote my regular SSRN page.  Through its facility with scripts and feeds, Louisville's information technology staff has given the entire faculty many weapons for heightening awareness, within the academy and among members of the public at large, of the powerful legal scholarship being generated at the University of Louisville.

— Jim Chen

October 21, 2008 in Deans and innovations, Scholarship -- online, Technology -- for advancing scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 09, 2008

The Carnegie report cheatsheet for deans

Judith Wegner, one of the co-authors of Educating Lawyers (the Carnegie report) was kind enough to share with me the slides she used for the Dean's Section at the AALS annual meeting last week. I thought this would be useful/interesting for anyone who wanted a quick download of the report's main findings and recommendations:

Carnegie Report on Legal Education: Perspectives for Deans

As for the role of law school deans in pushing change, I would love to hear Jim weigh in, but one strong point I took away from Martha Minow's presentation on the panel was that (a) the Dean must be fully invested and bring everyone else on board, and (b) the effort should focus on an actual process that will lead to meaningful, even if incremental, progress. I've posted this before, but I continue to believe that a movement approach can work if there's enough commitment. And based on the buzz and turnout last week, I think the will is there, if only a few of us start believing that change is possible.

Also, please note that you can now download an MP3 recording of the plenary panel on law school reform.

- Gene Koo

January 9, 2008 in Deans and innovations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 05, 2008

Raw outline of "Rethinking Legal Education For The 21st Century"

Below are the "raw" notes I took in the AALS Friday afternoon plenary session, "Rethinking Legal Education for the 21st Century" featuring Edward L. Rubin (Vanderbilt University Law School), Vicki C. Jackson (Georgetown University Law Center), Robert Mac Crate, Esq. (Senior Counsel, Sullivan and Cromwell), Martha L. Minow (Harvard Law School), Suellyn Scarnecchia (University of New Mexico School of Law), William M. Sullivan (Senior Scholar The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching), Judith W. Wegner (University of North Carolina School of Law).

Update: MP3 recording of this session now available.

[The panel began with Bill Sullivan outlining the Carnegie Foundation's Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law.]

Bill Sullivan (Carnegie Foundation)

Prof ed's common goal as it moved into university: a threefold apprenticeship:

  • knowledge
  • competence for practice
  • Identity + prof. purpose

Experiential learning

  • Mastery
  • Judgment

AALS will be collecting best practices at


Ed Rubin (Vanderbilt)

Law schools teach all three years at same level of sophistication. Vanderbilt now offers areas concentration, incrementing analytical sophistication, guided by faculty

Vicki Jackson (Georgetown)

  1. Globalization - an opportunity to rethink our fields

  2. Expanding learning experiences.How we teach is what we teach -- Problem-solving, reflective

    • Social science about learning
    • Critiques about legal education
    • [Illegible -- help?]
  3. Law + Legal systems to Justice / Fairness. "Week 1" (of 2nd semester)

    • Intro to realistic, complex multiunit problem
    • Problem-based experiential setting
      • Assigned + act out roles
      • Collaboratively w/ role group
    • Builds on 1st-year content


ABA 25 years ago urged reassessment together

Martha Minow (Harvard)

theme: "choice"

Once it became clear that we were serious, there was little disagreement (but enormous resistance). There were two contradictory objections to each idea:

  • "We've tried that before."
  • "We've never tried that before."

Autonomy of prof. in the classroom leads to need to learn to play well together

  1. "What do students need now?" not "How did I learn law.” Student as a person on a map
  2. Some of mastery, not labeled w/ doctrine. Rather, problem-solving, strategy
  3. Ethics + Role: taking agency
  4. Institutional design change: choice

How change happened at Harvard:

  • Leadership: Dean on committee, attend every one
  • Process, not report
  • Ambition: pursue something faculty is afraid of: results not guaranteed

Exceed existing constraints

  • Look outside: medical, business, policy
  • More process: agreement before the vote
  • It's not over: ongoing, not episodic

Suellen Scarnecchia (University of New Mexico School of Law)

Clinical faculty at NM are tenured [applause]

Do we have the right faculty? Yes: we can integrate the 3 apprenticeships with current personnel. But what stops us?

  • History: clinical and legal writing faculty fought to get in
  • Bias about each other (mutual between faculty and clinical)

We need

  • respect
  • collaboration


  1. A reason to change (Purpose)

    • We're smart
    • Self actualization (letting the energy out)
    • Conscience + stewardship: build a better society
  2. Multiple dimensions of teaching

    • Beyond intellectual knowledge: new epistemology. We construct knowledge in context.
    • Beyond content
  3. It's About learning

    • Students learn better that way
      • - Values / motivation
      • - Experiential:learn by doing
    • Progression
    • Advising: career choices, values, courses
  4. It's About Learning

    • Take assessment seriously
    • Bifurcate bar exam: 1st year analytics


What are the challenges in next 20-30 years

Talk about Social Justice + Ethics in the curriculum

Students as subjects/ agents

Casebooks as a barrier to innovation: publishers not moving quickly enough?

January 5, 2008 in Conferences, Deans and innovations, Reform | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 05, 2007

A VAP innovation from Harvard Law School

Thanks to this post from Orin Kerr at Volokh, I saw this notable piece from the Harvard Law Record , headlined "Dean Starts Program to Boost Practicioners Into Academia," which reports on a new Visiting Assistant Professor (VAP) program in the works at Harvard Law School.  Here are the basics:

Dean Elena Kagan has initiated a new program to bring practicing lawyers to Harvard Law School and provide them an opportunity to start careers in academia.  While the program is still in its planning stages, Kagan happily met with reporters from the Record to describe the program and her vision for the law school faculty. The program, which is set to begin in the 2008-09 academic year, will bring practitioners who are interested in academia to Harvard for a two-year position, with the tentative title of "Visiting Assistant Professor."  These positions will function much like the Climenko and Houston fellowship positions at Harvard Law and fellowships at other schools that are geared towards recent graduates.

As this post at Concurring Opinions highlights, VAP programs are all the rage.  Indeed, Paul Caron has this lengthy and growing list of schools that have VAP or fellowship programs for aspiring law professors.  To my knowledge, though, the in-development Harvard program is the first that will be intentionally geared toward practitioners.

I suspect this program will end up attracting mostly young practitioners (i.e., folks with only a few years in practice) because of economics and other factors.  Still, Dean Kagan merits props for this intriguing new approach to the VAP model.

Intriguingly, the comments to Orin's post really go after the usual anti-practitioner bias reflected in much of the elite law school academy.

Posted by DAB

December 5, 2007 in Deans and innovations | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 15, 2007

Who gave the best advice to Dean Erwin Chemerinsky?

Over at TaxProf here, Paul Caron has assembled all forty of the provocative responses he got to this question:

What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?

I would be interested to hear LSI reader responses to all this unsolicited advice for the new Dean, and I would be especially grateful to hear from anyone who identified any enduring themes in all this advice.

Posted by DAB

October 15, 2007 in Deans and innovations | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 18, 2007

Innovation, publicity and the development of new law schools

I have not blogged on the hiring-firing-rehiring of Professor Erwin Chemerinsky as the new Dean of the new UC Irvine law school in part because the rest of the legal blogosphere has been all over the story.  (The WSJ Law Blog and Brian Leiter's Law School Reports have been particularly effective at covering developments, and TaxProf Blog has had great round-ups.)

But now that the dust is settling, the affair provides a nice setting for reflections on publicity and innovation, especially in the context of a new law school. 

First, though the Chemerinsky affair makes a lot of folks look bad, the new UC Irvine law school has gotten a lot of unexpected publicity (and the school now likely will continue to generate added publicity as legal media and professors watch more closely how now-Dean Chemerinsky and the UC system moves forward).  Though not all publicity is good publicity, I do think the whole affair could end up a net win for a new school that surely would struggle to make a name for itself in a crowded law school market.

Second, on the assumption that various folks in the UC system may now need to give Dean Chemerinsky extra room to operate as he sees fit, Dean Chemerinsky may have a truly unique opportunity to innovate in a setting that may be uniquely friendly to innovation.  California has a lot of different law schools, a lot of different legal markets, and a lot of different legal and non-legal appeals for potential students and potential faculty.  Because UC-Irvine needs to start from scratch in a dynamic and competitive marketplace, there may be lots of opportunities and even a strong demand for the development of a truly innovative law school.

But, third, perhaps the marketplace for innovation and prestige in law schools may be stacked against Dean Chemerinsky and UC-Irvine.  Michael Dorf made this point (in a less that PC-way) in interesting recent posts here and here.  Here is the start of Dorf's skepticism on law school innovation potential:

When I last saw Erwin Chemerinsky I asked him why he wanted to be the dean of a new law school. He was enthusiastic in response, talking about the opportunity to place his stamp on legal education as the founding dean of the UC Irvine Law School.  I was skeptical and remain so.  Chemerinsky has enormous talent and energy but I sincerely doubt that anyone could change legal education significantly without buy-in from the faculty of an already top law school.

Though I do not concur with all of Dorf's points, I do think he is flagging some important and troublesome issues about elite law schools as, to coin a phrase, "innovation market-makers."

September 18, 2007 in Deans and innovations | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 14, 2007

Law School Deans Denounce Web Site Content

Link: Law School Deans Speak Out on Web Site Content - washingtonpost.com.
The deans at two top law schools have admonished the operators of an Internet message board that hosts chats containing personal attacks against female students and racist and homophobic remarks. Letters written by the deans at Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania law schools, were issued after an article in The Washington Post aired the debate over AutoAdmit, a message board that was created as a forum to exchange advice on law schools and firms. The women who were targeted in some chats had complained to the site owners that the commentary was offensive and false, but they received no relief. Cohen and the site's co-owner, Anthony Ciolli, a third-year law student at Penn, defended AutoAdmit as a forum for free speech. In an open letter to the "Yale Law School Community," Dean Harold Koh noted that AutoAdmit contained numerous "false and hurtful assertions" by anonymous posters, and that some included names and personal information of Yale students. Some chats contained claims that women had sexually transmitted diseases. One Yale student, The Post reported, believed that the chat content, which was accessible in a Google search, contributed to her inability to find a summer job. "Such anonymous, personal attacks on individuals are despicable," Koh wrote. "These malicious attacks, as well as racist, sexist and homophobic speech, have no place in the Yale Law School community." The Penn law school dean, Michael A. Fitts, and the associate dean, Gary Clinton, posted a letter on the site Thursday, stating that while they understood the right to engage in spirited debate, "we all have a moral and professional obligation to engage in that debate in a responsible manner." They said that though the university thought it had no basis to act against Ciolli, the derogatory comments could serve as a basis for defamation suits and "may increasingly become the subject of concern by bar admissions committees." Meanwhile, ReputationDefender, which is representing several women who were targeted on AutoAdmit, has engaged a law firm to explore civil and criminal claims on the women's behalf, ReputationDefender chief executive Michael Fertik said.
Note to AutoAdmit proprietors: CDA Section 230 may well not be the invincible shield against liability that you clearly believe it to be. Anupam Chander

March 14, 2007 in Deans and innovations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2007

Simulations, part 1: Thinking like (and being) a lawyer

In my next few blog posts I’m going to focus on the role of simulations in the law school curriculum, writing both with reference to my current research as well as my own experience developing and participating in simulations.

Simulations and games can provide learning environments in which students develop the knowledge, skills, values, and identity that uniquely define a profession, according to Prof. David Shaffer of the University of Wisconsin. His new book, How Computer Games Help Children Learn, outlines how carefully-designed games can, with appropriate scaffolding by teachers, help learners develop appropriate “epistemic frames” for understanding the world and solving problems. While Shaffer’s book focuses on K-12 education, its focus on professional frames offers a very promising avenue to implement the recommendations of the Carnegie study to integrate doctrine with lawyering skills and ethical and moral considerations.

Simulations and Epistemology: “Thinking like clients”

Stanford might well be the leading law school developing simulation-based courses as part of its broader efforts to reshape upper-level classes, as Dean Larry Kramer described in an earlier LSI post. In a recent chat, Dean Kramer described to me the goal of these simulations as helping law students to “think like a client” rather than merely “think like a lawyers” across different doctrinal areas. Through simulations, law students work in teams with students from other graduate schools to solve a fully-described, substantive problem. “The responses from students,” he states, “have been tremendous.”

To get a better sense of how Stanford’s simulations might help law students to “think like clients,” I spoke with Stanford’s Vice-Dean, Mark Kelman, who offered several examples. In one recent course, eight law students worked prepped eight graduate science students for a simulated patent litigation (validity and infringement) case. The law students’ role was to help the scientists convey technical information to a lay audience. According to Kelman, “For the lawyers, if you can’t learn to both prep and understand the people who are the source of the IP, you’re grossly handicapped in your work.”

What, then, does it actually mean to “think like a client”? Returning to Shaffer’s framework of (1) knowledge, (2) skills, (3) values, and (4) epistemology, it seems clear to me that the IP simulation Prof. Kramer sketched out does not intend (primarily) to teach lawyers the knowledge or skills to be an engineer. Rather, by introducing law students to engineers’ values and broader sense of identity, these simulations help future lawyers better represent future clients by better understanding their needs. (Conversely, future engineers learn how to work with their attorneys to craft more effective IP protections for their inventions).

Of course, learning to “think like a client” is itself a skill – one that Dean Kramer is betting as foundational to not just “thinking like” but actually being a lawyer.

-- Gene Koo

January 23, 2007 in Deans and innovations, Recommended readings, Teaching -- pedagogy | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 03, 2007

WWaJD?: Welcome Dean Levi

In this post congratulating contributing editor Jim Chen on his new position as Dean of the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville, I noted the buzzing throughout the law school world about "What Will Jim Do?" to innovate at his new institution.  Today, as covered well by Peter Lattman and How Appealing and Orin Kerr,  the question is "What Will a Judge Do?" as dean of a law school.  To be more specific, what will Judge David Levi, who currently serves as the chief federal judge for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento, do when taking over as Dean of the Duke Law School later this year?

As Peter Lattman's post highlights, Judge Levi has an academic pedigree: Levi's father "served as dean of the University of Chicago Law School and then as that university's president, before being appointed by President Ford as Attorney General in 1975."  And yet, Judge Levi's bio indicates that he has never before been a law professor.  (The official announcement from Duke notes that Judge Levi "will be teaching a course on complex litigation this spring at the University of California at Davis School of Law, where he is one of the founders of the American Inns of Court chapter.")

It is fun to speculate about how a long-time federal district judge will adjust to, and seek to shape, the peculiar academic environment of an elite law school.  I am hopeful that Judge Levi, once he is Dean Levi, will be an innovator.  (Notably, in Duke's announcement, a quote from Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh describes Judge Levi as an "innovative federal judge."  I'm not quite sure what this means. If one accepts the Chief Justice's view of judging in umpire-terms, I doubt it would be a compliment to say the umpire working the plate is an "innovative" umpire.) 

I am especially eager to watch how Judge Levi will handle the (growing?) divide between legal scholarship and legal practice.  On this theme, I was struck by this quote from Duke's Provost concerning Judge Levi's appointment:

He will serve the university well in enhancing the distinctive identity of Duke Law School as a place that recognizes the importance of aligning the highest standards of academic scholarship with a real commitment to addressing challenges within the profession and making law school relevant to the changing world of legal practice.

As I have argued in this paper and try to prove in my chief blog, I think scholarly blogging is an effective way to align "the highest standards of academic scholarship with a real commitment to addressing challenges within the profession and making law school relevant to the changing world of legal practice."  I wonder if Dean Levi will agree.

January 3, 2007 in Deans and innovations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack