Thursday, October 21, 2010

Several recent academic conferences discuss reforming legal education with an emphasis on better preparing students for practice

The second of three conferences on the future of legal education, called FutureEd and jointly sponsored by Harvard Law School and New York Law School, recently concluded in Cambridge.  For a report on the first conference in this series, go here and here.  The conference was attended by  clinicians, practitioners, foreign legal educators, clients and even some students.

According to conference organizers, the purpose of these conferences is to generate ideas about how to make legal education more relevant to the practice of law.  While speakers and attendees expressed different views about how to make that happen, according to the National Law Journal, there's a consensus that the old model of legal education is not sustainable (which presumably refers to disconnect between what law schools are teaching versus the needs of the bar and public).

But the joint Harvard-NYLS series of conferences aren't the only ones to consider whether the present law school model is  or is not working:

Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law last month released the findings of a multi-day conference it held in the spring that brought together judges, practitioners and professors to discuss everything from the usefulness of 1L curriculum to the development of comprehensive post-graduate attorney training programs. The University Maryland School of Law held a conference in April looking at changes in the legal profession — and addressing those shifts within the legal academy. Similarly, the University of Wisconsin Law School will host a two-day conference next weekend called Legal Education Reform after Carnegie: Bringing-Law in-Action into the Law School Classroom. (The influential 2007 report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching concluded that law schools do not do a good job of preparing student for the practice of law or helping them develop ethics and professional identity.)

To read more about this story in the National Law Journal, click here.


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