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Law Schools 'Should Be Ashamed'

A new report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching condemns law schools for failing to support students in developing ethical and practice skills for giving only casual attention to teaching students how to use legal thinking in the complexity of actual law practice. The report, Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law, recommends:

"Legal education needs to be responsive to both the needs of our time and recent knowledge about how learning takes place; it needs to combine the elements of legal professionalism -- conceptual knowledge, skill and moral discernment -- into the capacity for judgment guided by a sense of professional responsibility. Legal education should seek to unite the two sides of legal knowledge: formal knowledge and experience of practice."

A report about the study in today's Chronicle of Higher Education summarizes it this way:

"The report concludes that the Socratic 'case dialogue' method that dominates law-school teaching does a good job of teaching students legal-reasoning skills but does little to prepare them to work with people or juggle morally complex issues."

It is a state of affairs that leads Tom Kane at The Legal Marketing Blog to say that law schools "should be very ashamed." Why should this matter so much to a legal marketer such as Kane? Because if law-school grads are unprepared to practice, they are equally unprepared to develop a practice. Kane writes:

Recent graduates are unprepared for the day-to-day realities of practicing law, including developing business. ... Additionally, these young lawyers are woefully lacking in the client relationship skills that are so vital, not only to developing business, but having a successful long-term practice.

The Carnegie Report says that some law schools are already making strides towards a better balance of theory and practice. The authors single out Gonzaga University School of Law, New York University, the City University of New York, Yale Law School and Southwestern Law School. Many others, however, have a long way to go.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 19, 2007 at 03:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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