Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Building on Best Practices

I am a bit of a Veruca Salt when it comes to certain things, including books, especially ones that promise to be transformative--“I want it and I want it now, Daddy!” And so last December, I demurely offered to copy edit Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World before it went to the publisher. This was no sacrificial duty on my part. I had the opportunity to read a couple of the chapters in draft form earlier in the year and I was impatiently hungry for more—a lot more, and now! The pedagogical feast did not disappoint. 

The editors describe the goals of Building on Best Practices  as a “[R]eflection on the best of current and emerging practices in legal education that will guide individual teachers and law school administrations in designing a program of legal education that meets the needs of the lawyers of tomorrow. Today's law students will enter a profession vastly different from the one their predecessors experienced, for which different skills, knowledge and values are necessary. This book is an attempt to synthesize important developments in legal education that have occurred since the publication of Best Practices for Legal Education. It is designed as a resource for anyone who hopes to contribute to the betterment of legal education and wishes to explore positive opportunities for change.” 

As promised, the book builds on Best Practices in Legal Education, which was written by Roy Stuckey et al. and published by CLEA in 2007. Building on Best Practices takes into consideration the crisis in legal education, advances in technology, the diversification of students in U.S. law schools, changes in the profession, new accreditation standards, the further development of educational research into how we learn, and much, much more.

Coincidentally, I was reading the book while attending the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting, and as I moved from the sessions and discussions at the Annual Meeting back into the pages of the book, I was struck by the level of synchronicity between the concerns raised by our colleagues at the meeting and the insights and guidance provided by Building on Best Practices. The book is both timely and relevant at a time when legal educators need help—badly. Legal education is at least in flux, and possibly, in crisis, and it is crucial that we recognize our challenges and collaboratively identify and implement solutions to help us move forward into a new stage in history.

That collaboration is evident from cover to cover in Building on Best Practices. Edited by Deborah Maranville, Lisa Radtke Bliss, Carolyn Wilkes Kaas, and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (eds.), it includes contributions from more than 50 legal educators from law schools across the country. The publisher, LexisNexis, is making the $50 print book available to every legal educator in the U.S. at no cost and has already made the ebook version available (also at no charge).   

Here's the link to the ebook, in case you, like me, just can’t wait to devour more: http://www.lexisnexis.com/store/search/search-results.jsp?_requestid=31396\.


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