A Legal Education Renaissance: A Practical Approach for the Twenty-First Century

119 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2008 Last revised: 9 Dec 2012

Date Written: April 2, 2008


This article presents the history of legal education, criticisms, research, learning theory and innovative educational models in one place. They are interrelated and provide the basis for realistic solutions to the problems facing legal education, a legal education renaissance.

PART I - THE HISTORY AND STATUS OF LEGAL EDUCATION Chapter 1 - Thinking Outside the Box and Richard Fosbury

Addresses the short-comings of legal education and the reasons why change is necessary. Law schools have the responsibility to teach and train students to become competent lawyers.

Chapter 2 - A Brief History of Legal Education in the United States Provides facts that demonstrate legal education in its present day form is obsolete.

Chapter 3 - Roadblocks to Innovation

Provides an analysis of the roadblocks that stifle progress and prevent innovation in legal education.

Chapter 4 - Research and Recommendations

Provides a comprehensive guide to the research on legal education: The Reed Report, the Cramton Report, the MacCrate Report, the Zemans and Rosenblum Survey, the Garth and Martin Survey, the Minnesota Survey, the Binder and Bergman Survey, the Sheldon and Krieger Research, and the 2007 Report of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Chapter 5 - Learning Theory, Instruction, Curriculum Design, and Assessment

Provides an analysis of various learning theories and why a single approach to legal education fails to address the differences in how people learn.

Chapter 6 - What Others are Doing

Examines innovative teaching methods from all areas and levels of education which add to the traditional lecture-based education.


Chapter 7 - A Leal Education Renaissance

Demonstrates how a Legal Education Renaissance can be achieved. The perspectives and recommendations in this work are presented with the intent of encouraging discussion about the future of modern legal education. It suggests a model for change, incorporates modern learning theory and teaching tools and provides answers to criticism by addressing curriculum, teaching, faculty, and costs. By offering a realistic, achievable solution that fits within the guidelines and rules that govern legal education institutions, it is not only possible, but essential to create a Legal Education Renaissance.

Keywords: Legal education reform, Legal education innovation, Legal education challenges-solutions, Capstone, Keystone, Educating lawyers

Suggested Citation

Sonsteng, John O., A Legal Education Renaissance: A Practical Approach for the Twenty-First Century (April 2, 2008). William Mitchell Law Review, Vol. 34, No. 1, 2007, William Mitchell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 89 (revised April 2, 2008), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1084098

John O. Sonsteng (Contact Author)

Mitchell Hamline School of Law ( email )

875 Summit Ave
Room 356
St. Paul, MN 55105-3076
United States
651-290-6324 (Phone)

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