The Status of Curricular Change During the Industry's Great Recession: Radical, or the New Norm?
40 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2015
Date Written: December 7, 2015
After Best Practices and The Carnegie Report were published in 2007, schools found renewed conviction to incorporate practice-readiness skills into the law school curriculum. The authors of Best Practices noted that over the years a large portion of the legal community felt that most law school graduates lacked the basic skills to practice. Both Best Practices and Carnegie call for reducing the dependence on Socratic dialogue and the case method while infusing knowledge, skills, and values into doctrinal courses. Although this change will not be easy to accomplish, we can draw inspiration from some law schools that have successfully modified their curriculums. I have summarized some of these successes in this article.
This author proposes a three-part plan in order to remedy the lack of practice-readiness among new attorneys. First, the law school curriculum must continue to undergo systematic scrutiny to achieve balance between the theoretical and the practical. Second, in addition to the American Bar Association’s (“ABA”) six credit experiential learning requirement (every student must take six credit hours of a simulation course, law clinic, and/or field placement), law schools should require students to take twelve more skills credits, which could be wholly taken from existing elective skills courses that law schools have an abundance of. So every student would be required to take eighteen practice skills credits before graduating. Finally, all states should mandate that a practice portion be added to their bar examinations.
Keywords: curriculum, skills, carnegie report, Carnegie, best practices, curricular reform, curriculum mapping, course sequencing, experiential learning requirement, ABA
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