Rediscovering the Lawyer School: Curriculum Reform in Wisconsin
Keith A. Findley
University of Wisconsin Law School
Wisconsin International Law Journal, Vol. 24, 2006-07
Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1074
From America's inception through the Civil War, legal education was entirely practice-oriented; it was based not on academic study at a university, but consisted almost exclusively of apprenticeship with a practicing lawyer. As the study of law moved from apprenticeships in law firms to university-based law schools, the method of study became more theoretical. After the 1870s, Langdell's case method became the dominant model of studying and teaching the law. Gradually, law schools became more abstract and theoretical, and less grounded in the practice of law. Increasingly, practicing lawyers and judges complained that law schools were not preparing law students who were ready for the practice of law in terms of either the skills or the values necessary for effective practice. This article explores the history of legal education, the calls for greater relevance, and the ways law schools such as the University of Wisconsin can reform their curricula to respond to these concerns.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
Keywords: curriculum reform, legal education, clinical education, Langdell, Socratic method, case method
JEL Classification: K40
Date posted: February 11, 2009
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