Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Interview with Dean Martin Katz Concerning Legal Education Reform

Paul Lippe has an interesting interview with Dean Matin Katz on Legal On Ramp.  Some excerpts:

How is your school addressing the pressure faced by law firms to avoid staffing matters with recent law graduates?

"Law schools need to produce more practice-ready – or client-ready – graduates. . . .  Fortunately, there is increasing consensus on the best way to teach adult students this type of mastery: experiential learning. The 2007 Carnegie Report, Educating Lawyers, suggests that, by integrating doctrine, skills, and professional identity in rich, experiential, problem-based courses, we can train our students to start acting like lawyers while they are still in law school. The result is that recent graduates, who have essentially been placed in practice situations while they are still in law school, come to resemble more traditionally trained lawyers with one or even two years of experience – lawyers that most clients would be happy to hire."

What about the automation of routine, repetitive tasks, such as discovery or basic contract drafting?

"[I]n an increasingly complex world, there will remain a large supply of legal and business problems for which clients will seek counsel. The key, therefore, is to train our students to become excellent problem-solvers. This means putting them in real and simulated problem-based courses, and having them act as members of problem-solving teams – optimally, alongside team members from other disciplines. If they have these capabilities, they will almost certainly find good, meaningful work."

How can law school faculty members, who tend to be insulated from the legal market, be motivated to embrace change?

. . . "ETL [Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers] provides a network for law professors across the country who are interested in innovative teaching along the lines suggested by the Carnegie Report (experiential learning that integrates doctrine, skills, and professional identity). Professors who develop innovative, Carnegie-style courses post rich information about those courses on the ETL website ( The course modules even include video of the courses in action. Visitors to the site can learn about a new, innovative course and how it worked, and can adopt techniques from the course – adapting them to their own classroom. Professors can also discuss the courses, either on line or at our annual ETL conferences.

ETL also provides an analogous network for law schools across the country that are committed to this type of curriculum. A consortium of 21 schools (which is growing) support the website, and meet annually to discuss how to implement and advance the type of legal education that will let us respond to the new normal. "

(Scott Fruehwald

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