Standing on Quicksand: Are Law Schools Teaching Survival Skills for an Evolving Legal Landscape
DePaul College of Law
April 25, 2011
While most disciplines and professions have adapted varying uses of technology in their everyday functions and tasks; legal education still remains one of the last holdouts. Much of what has become standard to legal education pedagogy over the past 140 years has been subject to a growing criticism and calls for a new and different approach. This is particularly true when it comes to teaching practical lawyering skills, which includes a working knowledge of the form and function of legal resources.
The technology age has considerably altered both aspects of these resources, and undoubtedly more changes will come. These changes necessitate a heightened level of information literacy on the part of today’s law student, a skill that is all too often overlooked, or taken for granted. History teaches us that the debate over how much, or even if law schools should teach practical skills, is not a new one. The reasons to resolve the issue, however, may be more compelling than ever.
This paper adds another voice and dimension to the ongoing discussions about the direction and evolution of American legal education. Specifically, as that discussion pertains to the lack of “lawyering skills” training in general; and the need to include instruction in information literacy as part of the educational process.
The author, a law librarian and instructor of legal research, provides a brief overview of the history and development of legal education as background and context to discuss reform and modernization. The application and adaptation of technology in education is generally discussed, with specific mention of the role of libraries, and legal education in particular. Lastly, the author provides some discussion about changes within the legal profession related to technology and its potential future impact on the practice of law.
Keywords: Legal Education, Information Technology, Legal Research
JEL Classification: I2, I21, I29, K19working papers series
Date posted: April 26, 2011 ; Last revised: December 17, 2012
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