Thursday, August 2, 2012

Just Released: Major Findings of the ABA 2010 Survey on Curriculum

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. 


•     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 . . . . 


•    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.

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