Monday, July 22, 2013

ABA Standards Review Committee Votes to Require 6 Credits of Experiential Courses

Last week, the ABA Standards Review Committee voted to increase the experiential learning requirement from 1 credit hour to 6 credits hours.  (here)  Law schools can satisfy this requirement through clinics, externships, or simulation courses.  While this is less than the 15 credit hours recommended by CLEA, it is a step in the right direction.  I am sure this issue will come up again at next month's meeting of the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education.

The committee also adopted a student-learning outcomes requirement.  One commentator describes the requirement as: "Law schools would have to establish a list of competencies that students must achieve and assess whether they are meeting those goals. This measure is intended to make schools look beyond bar-pass rates to determine whether they are meeting student needs. However, the recommended standard leaves law schools plenty of leeway in determining what the learning outcomes should be and how to assess them."

This change could turn out to be important.  Law schools need to look at more than what they want their students to learn; they must look at what their students actually learn.

The Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will consider these  changes at the ABA meeting in San Francisco next month.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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