Monday, April 2, 2012
As one of my co-bloggers mentioned a couple of days ago, there is now a new blog, Law Schooled, for students to discuss legal reform. We welcome this blog to the law school debate. It is especially important that law students participate in the discussion that will determine their futures.
With a new blog on legal education, it is time to ask what law students can do to help reform legal education.
1. Learn about the issues in legal education. Regularly read Law Schooled, our blog, and Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers. Read Best Practices in Legal Education (free download ) and The Carnegie Report. Post your ideas on Law Schooled.
2. When choosing a law school, look for law schools that stress the connection between theory and practice (legal skills courses, clinics, doctrinal courses with skills exercises). One place to look is Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Consortium. There are also other schools who are not members of the Consortium but have good skills options, such as Vermont Law School’s General Practice Program.
3. Take as many skills courses and clinics as you can. If students take more skills courses and clinics, your law school will have to hire more skills professors and offer more skills options.
4. Suggest to your professors that they adopt textbooks that have skills exercises. Carolina Academic Press has published a number of casebooks, The Context and Practice Series, that include legal skills and professionalism exercises. Similarly, LexisNexis has published a series of supplemental books, The Skills and Values Series, that include skills exercises. Similar books will come out in the near future.
5. When your dean has an open forum, go! Don’t be afraid to express your views. (Respectfully, of course.) Let your deans know what courses you want. Work for change in the law school curriculum. Encourage law school transparency. Talk to faculty members about what you want from your law school. Participate in law school organizations, and, if your law schools has students on faculty committees, volunteer for those committees.
6. Show as much respect to your legal writing, clinic, and other skills teachers as you do to your doctrinal teachers. Meet with these teachers frequently. Legal writing teachers and clinicians love to interact with students. It is the best part of our jobs. Value your professors for their teaching ability, not their rank.
7. Be an engaged, active learner; be curious. Don’t just sit passively in the classroom–participate. Question what you read in your textbooks. Consider the implications of what you read in your textbooks and what your professors say. Don't settle for easy answers. Talk with your classmates about legal issues. Become excited about the law.
8. Take care of yourself. Don’t let law school get to you. If you are having a problem, discuss it with someone.