Moving Toward a Competency-Based Model for Fostering Law Students' Relational Skills

Clinical Law Review (April 2022 Forthcoming)

49 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2021

See all articles by Susan L. Brooks

Susan L. Brooks

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

Marjorie A. Silver

Touro University - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

Sarah Fishel

Drexel University; Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

Kellie Wiltsie

Drexel University - College of Arts & Sciences; Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

Date Written: March 2, 2021

Abstract

Legal education has long been criticized for failing to provide adequate professional training to prepare graduates for legal practice realities. Many sources have lamented the lack of sufficient attention to the range of competencies necessary for law graduates to be effective practitioners and develop a positive professional identity, including those that are intra-personal, such as self-awareness, critical self-reflection, and self-directedness; those that are interpersonal, such as deep and reflective listening, empathy, compassion, cross-cultural communication, and dialogue; and those that engage with the social/systemic dimension of lawyering, such as appreciating the role of multiple identities, implicit bias, privilege and power, and structural racism. For this article, we refer to this entire set of competencies as relational competencies. One notable exception to this sustained critique of legal education has been the field of clinical legal education, including law school clinics and externships. Nevertheless, what is still lacking is a more systematic approach to clinical law students' supervision around the knowledge, skills, and values connected to relational competencies. In this article, we aim to begin a conversation about how we can move to a competency-based approach to supervision of law students' in clinics and externships. We draw significant guidance from the field of psychology, where there is a well-established track record in using a competency-based approach to supervise trainees. By emphasizing the importance of relational competencies in legal education, we can more effectively promote well-being among students, their current and future clients, and the legal profession's culture. Ultimately, we hope to invite a broader conversation about a more holistic approach to legal professionals' licensing and ongoing supervision.

Keywords: competency-based learning, relational skills, clinical legal education, supervision, benchmarks, law and psychology

Suggested Citation

Brooks, Susan L. and Silver, Marjorie A. and Fishel, Sarah and Wiltsie, Kellie and Wiltsie, Kellie, Moving Toward a Competency-Based Model for Fostering Law Students' Relational Skills (March 2, 2021). Clinical Law Review (April 2022 Forthcoming), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3805326

Susan L. Brooks (Contact Author)

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law ( email )

3320 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.drexel.edu/law/susan-brooks.asp

Marjorie A. Silver

Touro University - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center ( email )

225 Eastview Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722
United States
6317617144 (Phone)

Sarah Fishel

Drexel University

3141 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law ( email )

3320 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Kellie Wiltsie

Drexel University - College of Arts & Sciences ( email )

United States

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law ( email )

3320 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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