Thursday, June 23, 2016
ABA Journal: Why law schools need to teach more than the law to thrive (or survive) by Chad Asarch & Phil Weiser
Why law schools need to teach more than the law to thrive (or survive) by Chad Asarch & Phil Weiser.
"The ongoing discussion on the future of legal education all too often misses the opportunities for innovation and re-invention."
"At Colorado Law, we are working to engage a range of employers and to develop experiments—on both the curricular and extracurricular fronts—to help students build key competencies and a portfolio of skills that will be valued by employers, including those who traditionally never hired from law schools. This strategy, as explained in this report (PDF), led the two of us to work together to create new nontraditional real estate transactions courses that developed important competencies. The results of this collaboration provide important lessons for the way forward."
"The two new courses—Real Estate Transactions and Advanced Real Estate Transactions—underscore the range of opportunities open to law schools willing to experiment. These courses are important not only because they enabled students to learn through experiences with real-world situations, but also because they were designed to enable students to develop a number of valuable competencies, including how to work well in teams, learn from feedback, and approach their work with a positive attitude."
"In designing both courses, the starting place was that actual real estate deal documents and issues would be front and center. In the foundational class, students began developing the skills necessary to read a real estate transactional document effectively, including an understanding of how the various provisions of the document work together and an appreciation for how different document revisions and additions were necessary to advance the cause of their client."
"In the advanced class, students learned to take their burgeoning understanding of real estate deals to the next level by working on negotiation projects in teams. With respect to both classes, the goal was to build on the traditional “issue spotting” and critical thinking skill set developed in the first year and to focus on practical legal skills (drafting contracts), contextual knowledge (how real estate development works in practice), and professional skills (including working effectively in teams). In so doing, the courses helped students develop as more complete professionals and build key competencies sought after by employers."
"Through this class (and complementary efforts), Colorado Law students discovered the importance of professional skills (including emotional intelligence) that they might not have previously viewed as important to their success."
"The world of legal education needs to move beyond a traditional model that has never worked for many of our students. In that sense, today’s challenging environment for law schools is an overdue wake-up call to ask ourselves what competencies matter for our students—that is, what competencies will help them add value as lawyers, policymakers, and leaders—and how can we best teach and deliver those competencies. With a range of promising experiments in new curricular and extracurricular offerings (some prompted by the ABA’s call to articulate key competencies developed by law schools), there are compelling reasons to believe that a reimagined law school experience is a worthwhile alternative to simply shrinking down the traditional law school model."