The Carnegie Effect: Elevating Practical Training Over Liberal Education in Curricular Reform
Journal of the Legal Writing Institute, Vol. 17, p. 233, 2011
22 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2012
Date Written: September 9, 2011
The Carnegie Effect: Elevating Practical Training Over Liberal Education in Curricular Reform. is a critical analysis of the Carnegie Foundation’s 2007 book length report on legal education, Educating Lawyers. Legal education is at a time of crisis, with law students facing increasing costs for their legal education and increased insecurity about employment upon graduation. Many law schools have responded to this crisis by advocating “practical” curricular reform based on the Carnegie Report. The view that the Carnegie Report advocates “practical” curricular reform is, however, only half the story. The Carnegie Report calls for law schools not simply to produce better-skilled practitioners, but rather to infuse law students with a highly-developed sense of morality, which will lead them to reform the legal profession itself. The article engages the important issues of professional identity raised by the Report and argues that, even if one embraces the Report’s call for ethical reform, the Report's perspective is too narrow. The article shows that the Report fails to consider that the erosion of professional ethics is symptomatic of broader trends in higher education as a whole, and of significant changes in the legal profession itself. Colleges and universities have shifted their emphasis from liberal-arts education to professionally-oriented education. Furthermore, there are alternate and conflicting models for the lawyer's role in modern society. The first model is that the lawyer's core role is to protect the rule of law for democratic society as a whole. The second model is that the lawyer is an advocate for private commercial and corporate interests in an increasingly global marketplace. As the article concludes, before law schools engage in curricular reform, they must first determine the model of professional identity for which they are preparing their students.
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