Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Scholarship alert: "Developing a comprehensive approach to teaching lawyering skills: a response to the MacCrate Report, fifteen years later"
This article come to us from Professor Scott Thompson of Liberty University School of Law and can be found at 3 Liberty U.L. Rev. 47 (2009). From the introduction:
In 1992, the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar issued its Report of the Task Force on Law School and the Profession: Narrowing the Gap (“MacCrate Report”). While the report covered a number of significant topics, it is perhaps best known for the Statement of Skills and Values, which listed ten key skills necessary for any attorney to competently represent a client . . . .The purpose of the MacCrate Report, as noted in its title, was to “Narrow the Gap” between the education offered at ABA approved law schools and the expectations of the bar. The report itself suggests that the gap envisioned at the time the task force was formed did not exist, and that what was needed was “a more accurate vision of the relationship between legal education and the practicing bar.” However, the report still recognized that the criticisms leveled at the academy by the bar (and vice versa) “have a strong base in reality.” More than fifteen years after the MacCrate Report was published, reports, studies and practicing lawyers continue to challenge the legal academy to provide more instruction in skills and practical training, and spend less time focusing on esoteric issues and scholarly debates that have little relation to the real world of the practice of law.In 2004, Liberty University School of Law (“LUSOL”) opened its doors with an entering class of sixty students. From its earliest planning days, during the drafting of its feasibility study, and from the moment its first curriculum was planned, LUSOL placed an emphasis on lawyering skills that is unique among American law schools. The Lawyering Skills (“LS”) program does not answer all of the criticisms leveled at the legal academy, but it does provide a comprehensive skills curriculum, comprised of a minimum of fourteen hours of skills training required of all students, that better prepares them for the practice of law than the traditional curriculum. The curriculum addresses each of the key skills identified in the MacCrate Report as being critical to the success of a competent lawyer.In Section II, this article presents a brief sampling of the concerns of the bench and bar, both before and after the MacCrate Report. Section III explains in detail the skills curriculum used at LUSOL and shows how each of the key skills identified in the MacCrate Report is taught throughout the curriculum. Section IV comments on four significant challenges to a skills curriculum that were raised in the MacCrate Report and LUSOL's response to these challenges. Finally, Section V offers a brief conclusion.