Thursday, August 2, 2012
Outlined here are the major findings from the Survey most relevant to our readers:
• Average credit hours required for graduation increased by one unit to 89 units in 2010 . . . .
• The number of law schools that required courses beyond the first year has remained relatively constant since 2002, with Constitutional Law and Evidence garnering the most support as required upper division doctrinal courses. For the first time, 28% of law school respondents indicated that they required a specific upper division legal writing course.
• Fewer law schools had upper division distribution requirements in 2010 than in 2002.
• Law schools have increased all aspects of skills instruction, including clinical, simulation, and externships, to meet recently adopted ABA Standard 302(a)(4), which requires that students receive “other professional skills” instruction.11
• Pro bono service requirements have increased incrementally since 2002 with 18% of law school respondents in 2010 requiring an average of 35 hours of pro bono service to graduate, which is, on average, ten more hours of service than reported in 2002.
• Legal Research and Writing continues to grow in stature as law schools increased the number of units and expanded course coverage to include skills instruction beyond traditional advocacy.
• More law schools offered first-year elective opportunities in 2010 than in 2002.
• Nearly half the respondents in 2010 provided a small section experience outside of Legal Writing. The average size of enrollment for the small section experience was 30 to 40 students.
UPPER DIVISION CURRICULUM
• The upper division elective curriculum remained healthy with little decrease in any particular areas of law. Course titles have increased since 2002 with noted additions in International Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Intellectual Property, Business Law, and Transactional Drafting.
• Law schools offered a wide range of professional skills opportunities, with half the respondents reporting ten or more types of professional skills courses. Transactional Drafting courses and upper division Legal Writing courses experienced the greatest growth in offerings. Many law schools also added courses and course components on professionalism and professional identity.
• Over 85% of respondents regularly offered in-house live-client clinical opportunities and 30% of respondents offered off-site, live-client clinical opportunities. Law schools with in-house clinical opportunities averaged three clinics. Nearly all respondents provided at least one externship opportunity, and without exception, placement opportunities have increased in each externship category since 2002.
• Eighty-seven percent of all ABA-approved law schools offered joint degrees in 2010.
• More law schools offered distance education courses in 2010 than in 2002 . . . .
ACADEMIC SUPPORT AND BAR READINESS
• By 2010, nearly all respondents had instituted a voluntary academic support program, and 70% of respondents offered their first-year students either a mandatory or voluntary academic support course.
• As of 2010, 49% of respondents offered a bar preparation course for credit. For most law schools, the course was voluntary, and full-time faculty resources, or a combination of full-time and adjunct faculty resources, were used in two thirds of the programs.