Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Law Schools' Untapped Resources

Professor Wes Reber Porter has posted a short essay on the Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers Website entitled Law Schools’ Untapped Resources: Using Advocacy Professors to Achieve Real Change in Legal Education.

Professor Porter's thesis is that, for real change to happen in legal education, "law schools must involve and elevate their former second-class citizens on the faculty: advocacy professors, clinicians, and legal writing instructors. These faculty members already teach, and have long taught, in the way that would represent real change in law schools."

He continues: "For this advocacy professor, the most-effective model for real change across the law school curriculum must include three elements:

  1. True integration of doctrine and practical simulations aimed at teaching skills and values;
  2. Individualized approach to students and their learning styles: more assignments, assessment, and attention to individuals who will join our profession; and
  3. Genuine, detailed feedback from the professor for all exercises and assignments."

He notes that "The advocacy professors at your institution, like clinicians and legal writing professors, lead courses that include these elements. These colleagues have, from the outset, effectively blended doctrine and simulations, taught skills and values, interacted with individual students, catered to different learning styles, designed and demonstrated exercises and teaching scenarios, demanded students complete many assignments other than a final exam, and provided endless oral and written feedback."

He concludes, "Law school faculties will discuss “integrated courses,” “skills labs,” “experiential learning,” and other code words for real change. But don’t reinvent the wheel in your reform efforts. Advocacy professors, like your clinicians and legal writing professors, have mastered this pedagogy."

I couldn't agree more.  Advocacy professors have been developing new and effective approaches to legal education for years.  They have been presenting the new approaches at conferences, and they have been using them in the classroom.  Advocacy professors can lead the way to educating students for the 21st century.

(Scott Fruehwald


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