Sunday, August 12, 2012
From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
The accrediting body of the American Bar Association voted on Friday against opening its process to law schools overseas, striking a blow to the four-year-old Peking University School of Transnational Law.
The school, which graduated its first class of 53 students this year, is the first law school in mainland China to offer an educational program modeled on the U.S.-style J.D. degree. Its founding dean, Jeffrey S. Lehman, said the school is a place where Chinese students who can't afford to study in the United States "live and breathe American law." The school, located at the university's branch campus in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, is the first foreign law school to seek ABA accreditation, a step that would make it easier for its graduates to practice law in the United States.
The school's request to be considered for ABA accreditation created bitter divisions in legal-education circles. Supporters said it made sense in light of the globalization of the legal profession, while critics said it would create headaches for the ABA and unwanted competition for American law students who are already facing dismal job prospects.
Law Without Wallstm is a partly virtual, collaboratory educational program created by Michele DeStefano and Michael Bossone at the University of Miami School of Law.
The ABA Journal succinctly describes the program: "LawWithoutWalls is a collaborative academic model that brings together students and faculty from 11 international law schools and one business school, law practitioners, business professionals, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to develop innovative solutions to problems facing law school and practice."
The LWOW website goes into more detail:
"After a rigorous application process, students from Fordham Law, Harvard Law, IE Business School, Indiana University School of Law, Miami Law, New York Law School, Peking University School of Transnational Law, Stanford Law School, Sydney Law School, Universidad de Los Andes Facultad de Derecho, University College London Laws, and University of St. Gallen Law School are teamed up to identify a problem in legal education or practice. Over the semester, each team develops a Project of Worth that creatively solves its identified problem. In addition to students, each team includes an Academic Mentor, a Practitioner Mentor, a Subject Expert Advisor, an Entrepreneur Advisor, and an Alumni Advisor, all of whom virtually guide the students and ensure that the Projects of Worth are creative, feasible, and valuable to an identified target audience. In order to cultivate relationships, LawWithoutWalls kicks off outside of the United States each January at one of the participating schools. It culminates with a ConPosium at Miami Law each April where students present their Projects of Worth to a mult-disciplinary panel of judges including venture capitalists. As a key component to LawWithoutWalls, students participate in Virtual Thought Leader Sessions wherein experts from around the world: 1) share their multidisciplinary perspectives on the needed changes in legal education and practice; and 2) teach professional, team building, idea generation, and entrepreneurial skills."
"LawWithoutWalls is, among other things, an attempt to eliminate the barriers between faculty and students, business and law, professors and practitioners, education and practice. It is an exciting and unique opportunity to collaborate across institutions, countries, and cultures and gain invaluable experience and insight into the world of law and business. Above all else, LawWithoutWalls engages those with a stake in Law's future and provides them with a powerful vehicle for innovation and change."
One participant has commented, "'There’s nothing like this in the law,' says mentor Hugh Totten, a partner at Valorem Law Group in Chicago. 'They are learning skills that are anticipatory to the profession —skills that are not necessarily used every day today, but they will be.' 'Students use their legal background and industry knowledge along with business analytical tools to create something ... that doesn’t exist,' Totten says. 'That never happens in legal education.'”
Professor Henderson has added, "LWOW is a grand experiment. 20 years from now, the DNA of a lot of innovation in legal education and legal services will be traceable to the seemingly impractical ideas that were trial-ballooned here. And one or two may be brand names in a few short years. So cool."
You can find past project topics here.
LWOW is one of the most innovative programs I have seen in my investigation of legal education reform. The students who participate in this program should become life-long innovators and expert problem solvers. Other law schools should carefully study this program.