Teaching Transactional Law
17 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2003
Date Written: September 4, 2003
In order to answer the question whether or under what conditions law schools teach transactional law classes, I designed and sent a questionnaire to 193 associate deans and professors at American law schools. The data offer interesting insights into modern legal curricula and influence our answer to the question whether law schools should teach transactional law courses.
For over 100 years, law schools have used the case method to teach legal theory and litigation-oriented courses. From civil procedure in the first year to federal courts and trial advocacy in the third year, our law schools' curricula devote most of their resources to litigation theory and trial practice.
Yet many graduating law students pursue careers in transactional law and, once they are sworn into the bar, never see the inside of a courtroom. Law schools should offer courses in transactional law to expose law students to the theory, concepts, problem-solving paradigms, and techniques that will qualify them to represent and counsel clients while negotiating and documenting legal transactions. I leave to others to answer the critics who contend, erroneously, that transactional law cannot be taught, but can only be learned by doing and training at a law firm. What do and should law schools teach their students to prepare them for careers as transactional lawyers? In this article, I begin to answer that question both from my perspective as a teacher and as an empiricist.
Keywords: law school curricula, transactional law courses
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