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Law School Training, Revisited

In the aftermath of the Carnegie Report on legal education, which my colleague, Robert Ambrogi posted on here back in January, law schools continue to examine ways to change to the curriculum to make  it more useful for law students.  The latest coverage comes from this article in today's New York Times.  And for many, the changes are long overdue.  In the words of Harvard Law School Dean,  Elena Kagan, quoted in the article, "When you haven’t changed your curriculum in 150 years, at some point you look around."

According to the article, the Carnegie Report "galvanized reflection" at many law schools.  In December, Stanford Law School will host a meeting of representatives from schools that have designed more innovative curriculums.  More interesting, many of these schools - such as City University of New York or University of Dayton - are not considered "top tier" by conventional standards, so it's gratifying to see that those at top schools are open minded enough, and concerned enough about improving legal education to look to these programs as models.

As for changes now taking place, Harvard and Vanderbilt law schools have modified the first year requirements to include a class on interpreting statutes and regulations.  And Stanford and other law schools have made it easier to take and receive credit for graduate level classes in other disciplines such as medicine, engineering, technology and international relations.

Of course, changing legal education is an ongoing and evolutionary process - much like the process of changing the law itself.  In an interesting piece by at The Conglomerate, Gordon Smith quotes from Lawrence Friedman on the "devastating obsoleteness of legal education."  Though Friedman's words could have been written today, they were published back in 1965.   Will it take another forty years to change legal education moving forward?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on October 31, 2007 at 05:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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