Institutionalizing Legal Innovation: The (Re)Emergence of the Law Lab
Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 65, No. 1, pp. 190-206, 2015
18 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2015 Last revised: 29 Jun 2015
Date Written: June 22, 2015
As the terrain for legal education shifts, law schools are looking across disciplines for new approaches to legal education, with a number of law schools recently establishing “law labs.” This article examines this new law lab movement, with a particular focus on the subset of legal innovation labs. Law labs were originally proposed as part of the legal realist-era law clinic movement, and there are many parallels between law labs and traditional clinics. For example, both law labs and clinics borrow terminology and specific methodologies from the sciences, particularly medicine, and both arise in reaction to the entrenched case method or podium classroom methodology in legal education. However, law labs and clinics are also distinct. For example, the term “lab” has a specific cultural significance at a time when law schools are experiencing widespread criticism and critique, and lab processes includes methodologies that are new to law. The article concludes with a focus on several legal innovation labs, identifying the unique methodologies that these law labs seek to introduce – and institutionalize – in the law school setting.
Keywords: innovation, legal education
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