August 27, 2008
Getting From Point A to Point B: Success in Law School and Legal Practice
Regular readers of this blog will know that I share Leah Christensen's desire to see the end of the legal academy's institutional arrogance towards skills instruction come sooner rather than later but I don't think her recent article, The Power of Skills Training: A Study of Lawyering Skills Grades as the Strongest Predictor of Law School Success [SSRN] does much to bring this about. The article finds a strong correction between class rank and legal skills course grades, stronger than either LSAT or university GPA scores. So what? We already know that law students who learn to write like their law profs will get good grades. If the legal academy cares about skills training, lawyering skills need to be grounded in the real world and the metrics used need to find relationships between what is learned in law school and on-the-job performance.
This article is a companion piece to a different one that explores achievement goal theory and discusses the results of the study in detail as it relates to law students achievement goals. See Enhancing Law School Success: A Study of Goal Orientations, Academic Achievement and the Declining Self-Efficacy of Our Law Students [SSRN]. In it Christensen finds that the most successful students were mastery oriented learners, not performance (read grade) oriented. However, despite high achievement and mastery-oriented learning styles, the more successful law students were also more likely to doubt their individual abilities to understand and apply the law.
Enhancing Law School Success is the better of the two new articles. Christensen (Thomas Jefferson School of Law) has been producing some interesting articles in this area. [SSRN Author Page] I'm looking forward to the day she teams up with educational psychologists and HR experts to produce a more comprehensive empirical analysis that extends from success in law school to success in practicing law to explain how the legal academy can get from Point A to Point B. Wouldn't we all like to know how to do that? [JH]
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