Monday, August 19, 2019

Widener Law Dean Rod Smolla on how law schools embraced experiential learning

In this ABA podcast and short accompanying article, Widener University Delaware Law School Dean Rodney Smolla talks about how law schools in general began embracing an experiential learning model for the 3L year following the 2009 legal market meltdown. Dean Smolla explains that at the time he was in the midst of implementing such a curricular change at Washington and Lee by which the school intended to replace traditional classroom coursework with experiential pedagogy that included lessons focused on lawyer professionalism, ethics, civility in practice, civic engagement and pro bono service. (As presently configured, Washington and Lee's 3L program includes an array of clinical, practice simulation, and extern opportunities for third year students).

Though at the time the new experiential curriculum was a voluntary option for Washington and Lee students, within a couple of years it became mandatory for all 3Ls (by then, Dean Smolla had moved on).  By now, most law schools have embraced similar changes to the 3L curriculum according to Smolla. You can listen to Dean Smolla discuss the gradual but widespread acceptance of an experiential curriculum among law schools over the past 10 years in this 17+ minute podcast courtesy of the Legal Rebels column at the ABA Journal website here.


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