Sunday, February 24, 2013

With Plummeting Admissions and Less Revenue, Will Clinic Courses Suffer?

Because clinics require small classes, they have been comparatively expensive. With law school admissions and revenues declining, will clinics be the first to go? Not necessarily, says Mary Lynch as the Best Practices for Legal Education blog (Feb. 22). Here are two excerpts:

The Traditional Rhetoric:

[I]n- house clinics and well supervised and designed externship/field placements courses just “cost too much” compared to the low cost of putting a faculty member in front of a class of 50-100 students and letting them have at it! In other words, the old narrative holds that the actual “cost” of clinic courses is not about express value to the students, alums, and employers, but its relative cost vis- a- vis the traditional Socratic classroom.

An Alternative View:

Over the past decade and particularly since the global recession, that narrative has broken down, as law schools compete with each other to be the most bold and “innovative” in  re-structuring their curricula or creating an entirely  “experiential” third year .  And economically, that has made much sense.  As admission numbers plunge, so does the faculty student ratio and, thus,  the relative costs of making law schools focus more on the development of its students has radically declined.

The relative faculty/student ratio is changing everywhere and that is making appropriately designed and updated clinical courses less “expensive” every day under any cost-value ratio and even under the reductive and incomplete “relative cost” analysis.


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