Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Consensus Builds: Legal Education Reform is Necessary

From guest blogger Christine Mooney at Villanova:

The march toward legal education reform continues.  The latest conversation took place at a conference at the University of Wisconsin Law School on October 22-23 entitled “Legal Education Reform after Carnegie: Bringing Law-in-Action into the Law School Classroom.”  Attendees included educators from around the country including Anne Colby and William Sullivan, two of the authors of the Carnegie Foundation report, “Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law.” The keynote presenter was David Wilkins, the Harvard organizer of the Future Ed program who hosted the FutureEd 2 in Cambridge the previous weekend.

            The Wisconsin conference included a heavy emphasis on interdisciplinary teaching as well as ethics, including a panel focused specifically on teaching ideas for incorporating ethics into Legal Writing.  One of the many examples of interdisciplinary teaching is Wisconsin’s Center for Patient Partnerships, a program that brings together students and professionals in law, medicine, public health, social work, pharmacy, public affairs and science to advocate on behalf of patients. Programs like these offer students the chance to partner with other professionals outside their own discipline.  These experiences not only broaden student perspectives, but also prepare students for the team approach that clients increasingly seek from their lawyers.  It seems to me that the key to success in developing these programs is to build around the strengths and resources already available at your institution. Initiatives can start with a partnership with one other discipline and expand to include others as the program develops.



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