Pouring Skills Content Into Doctrinal Bottles
William R. Slomanson
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
February 3, 2011
Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 61, No. 4, p. 683, 2012
Thomas Jefferson School of Law Research Paper No. 1754629
When most of us attended law school, we thought of its doctrinal thinking-like-a-lawyer approach as a rite of passage. It was the accepted condition precedent to our later learning the necessary skills via on the job training. In today's economy, however, savvy students are beginning to demand justification for the high cost of their education in terms of practice preparation. The presumptive "fix" is the draft American Bar Association Standard 302 and its Interpretations regarding Learning Outcomes. Law schools will thus be augmenting the traditional doctrinal curriculum with more skills training, to better prepare our graduates for entry-level jobs. This article provides some practical insight into "skillsifying" doctrinal courses. It may be especially relevant for those of us who teach today's four out of five law students who will begin their practice in solo or small and newly-formed law firms. One can introduce varying amounts of skills content into a doctrinal class, without having to create a discrete skills course. In the student-driven alternative described in this article (which focuses on practical writing and advocacy training) Socrates is now a traffic cop.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 9
Keywords: legal education, skills training, Socratic dialogue, ABA Standard 302, learning outcomes, skills courses, doctrinal courses
JEL Classification: K10
Date posted: February 3, 2011 ; Last revised: December 16, 2012
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