Monday, February 6, 2012
There is on-line forum on legal education's response to the economic realities facing our profession. Topics so far include awareness in class, should the ABA deregulate law schools?, student loans, developing competence, should law school be an undergraduate degree?, etc.
For example, John Steele has an interesting post on developing competence. He stresses a real world focus. He states: "I’ll focus on teaching the PR course. We need to get realistic, teach about ethics within practice settings, and teach competence." He continues, " we need to teach the law of lawyering as it arises in specific economic and bureaucratic settings. To do that, we need to understand, for example, the finances and administrative bureaucracy of private practice (70% of all lawyers), in-house corporate settings (10%), government lawyers (10%), legal aid offices, etc. . . . That discussion about the economics of lawyering inevitably leads to students to ask why law schools don’t do a better job of developing competence, which in turns leads to a discussion of the economics of law school."
He adds, "we must expose the students to enough practice settings to at least sketch what’s out there in the profession. Private practice includes a huge number of settings. . . . shouldn’t we situate the bulk of our examples/hypotheticals in the practice areas where our students are likely to work?"
Finally, he declares, "all ethical lawyering is competent lawyering and our goal should be to develop our students’ competence rather than, for example, just rank them. . . . Lawyers need to develop skills that are valued in a variety of real-world settings and those of [us] who are paid with law student money ought to be committed to that goal—ought to be adding value. The PR course can build competence in the most fundamental of ways: competence in the law of lawyering itself, including structuring attorney client relationships, faithfully discharging our fiduciary duties to clients, fulfilling our professional duties to social systems like the courts and the markets, being more conscious of how economics and administrative settings can warp our ethical decision-making, and so on. The PR course should be one that the students understand is about their lives as lawyers."
I will have additional posts on this symposium, if appropriate.