Friday, July 30, 2021
Professor Neil Hamilton has written a new article on legal education that all deans and curriculum committee chairs need to read:
The reason this article is so important is because it presents how and when to provide curricular support during the significant transitions each student experiences in law school. I know of no other legal education article that has attempted this.
"Curricular support during the significant transitions each student experiences in law school will provide substantial benefits to students as well as the law school. What are the significant transitions? The distinction between the situational changes a law student experiences and the significant transitions of law school is important. During law school, each student experiences a number of situational changes like physically moving to a new city to attend law school, starting a new class, or starting a new year of law school. A significant transition, however, is a psychological inner reorientation and self-definition that the student must go through in order to incorporate the situational changes into a new understanding of professional life’s developmental process.1 This article will make clear that the major periods of inner re-orientation and self-definition for a law student are exceptional opportunities for the law faculty and staff to foster student growth toward later stages of the school’s learning outcomes. These opportunities benefit both students individually and the law school itself."
"Research on medical education emphasizes that a new entrant to a profession like medicine is growing, step by step, from being an outsider with a stance of an observer to join a new group or ‘community of expert practice’ as an insider in a profession."
"The premise of this article is that each law student during law school, similar to each medical student during medical school, will also have significant transitions where the student is growing, step by step, from being a novice outsider with a stance of an observer ultimately to join a new
community of practice as an insider to the profession. Unfortunately, there is very limited scholarship about the significant transitions each student must navigate in legal education. Part I of this article provides an analytical framework regarding the major transitions a law student must make to become a competent practicing lawyer. In Part II, the article provides data from law students starting the 2L year that identify the students’ perception of the major transitions from being a student to being a practicing lawyer in the 1L year and the summer between the 1L and 2L years. Part III analyzes principles that should inform an effective curriculum to help students grow during the major transitions of law school. Part IV applies the principles of an effective curriculum from Part III to the specific transitions that the students identified as most important in Part II."
From the Conclusion:
"Faculty and staff need to focus on major transition periods of inner re-orientation and self-definition for the law students as exceptional opportunities to foster student growth toward the school’s learning outcomes. This article has outlined major transition periods for law students that are exceptional opportunities for a proactive law school to foster student growth toward later stages of both ownership over each student’s own professional development (self-directed learning) and internalized responsibility to the client and the legal system.66 Student growth toward later stages of these two foundational learning outcomes will benefit both the students and the school.
The most important step for a proactive school to take is to provide coaching, feedback, and guided reflection at the major transitions involving authentic professional experiences (either real-life or mimicking real-life). If the coaching, feedback, and guided reflection are around an authentic professional experience that is part of an existing clinic, externship, or skills class, then clearly, the school can give credit for it. This would also be true if the coaching, feedback, and guided reflection, for example, guided reflective journals on the summer employment experience combined with a meeting with a coach, were part of a doctrinal course like Professional Responsibility. If the coaching, feedback, and guided reflection relate to authentic professional experiences outside of the current formal curriculum, for example, like the schools that require pro bono hours but do not supervise them, or all paid clerkships outside of the law school or even research assistant positions during the summers or the school year, ABA Accreditation Standards 303 and 304 indicate that this coaching would not qualify for experiential credit."
In sum, download and read this important article!
Thursday, July 15, 2021
A Guide to Help Lawyers, Law Students, and Business Professionals Develop Cross-Cultural Competence (2021)
A Guide to Help Lawyers, Law Students, and Business Professionals Develop Cross-Cultural Competence (2021) by Scott Fruehwald.
There has been a lot of discussion in legal education recently about teaching cross-cultural competence to law students. (Here) I have just published a short book on this topic.
"We live in a diverse world, and cross-cultural competence is important for everyone. This is especially true for lawyers and business professionals.
A key part of being a lawyer or business professional is the ability to deal with others. Part of this ability is the recognition that the people you will deal with come from many different cultures and backgrounds. We are all human, but there is a great deal of variation among humans. This is why I have written this book.
While cross-cultural competence has been an essential part of medical education and business for years, it is not usually part of legal education. However, it is essential to attorney competence, and it can give practitioners a competitive edge. Similarly, lack of cross-cultural competence can cause international business failure and ruin careers.
"'Cross-cultural competence'" is the "'ability to understand people from different cultures and engage with them effectively.'" It involves "'the ability to function effectively in another culture', consisting of three interdependent dimensions: 1) an affective dimension (personality traits and attitudes), 2) a cognitive dimension (how individuals acquire and categorize cultural knowledge), and a communicative, behavioral dimension (being an effective communicator).'"
Thursday, July 8, 2021
Dean Larry Cunningham has written an article that advocates that the "ABA's Proposed DEI Accreditation Standard Should Focus On Cross-Cultural Competency, Not Bias And Racism." Larry Cunningham, Cross Cultural Competency as a Learning Outcome.
Dean Cunningham makes an excellent point. In today's world, lawyers need to be able to interact successfully with individiuals from other cultures--both foreign and domestic. In fact, I would say that this is part of an attorney's duty of competence.
"The ABA received a flood of comments regarding a series of proposed changes to the Standards. The proposals involve professional identity formation and, broadly, the topic of diversity and inclusion. I added my two cents, suggesting areas where the proposals got it right and where they could use improvement. I noted an overarching concern about the ABA Standards being used to advance particular views of legal education that are better left to individual schools to decide whether to adopt. As I wrote, I can understand fully why schools may wish to specialize or distinguish themselves through professional identity formation or, for that matter, law and economics, public interest law, or international perspectives. That does not mean those views should be imposed on the other roughly 200 schools governed by the Standards as a matter of accreditation."
"In my comment, I suggested a different approach: adding cross-cultural competency to Standard 302."
"If we are serious about the skill of cross-cultural competency—and I think we should be—then it should be added to the list of mandatory learning outcomes in Standard 302 rather than as a prescriptive activity that law schools should engage in through Standard 303."
Here is another excerpt concerning the proposed 303(c):
"(Before addressing my suggestion, I pause to note that I recommended striking “bias” and “racism” from the proposal and focusing instead on cross-cultural competency. It seems odd to single out one “ism” (racism) when there are many forms of discrimination in society. The word “bias” could be construed to mean “implicit bias,” which in turn requires the ABA to wade into the debate over whether implicit bias is grounded in science or faulty assumptions about human thought and behavior and whether implicit bias training is effective or not. I prefer focusing on cross-cultural competency. Contrary to what some of the other comments said, cross-cultural competency is a known lawyering skill, one that the clinical, writing, and skills communities have been teaching for a long time and for which there is a great deal of helpful literature and approaches.)"
Stay tuned for some important news on cross-cultural training in the next few days.
Thursday, July 1, 2021
The comments on the Council of the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar's proposal to modify and add to Standards 205, 206, 303, 507, and 508 closed earlier this week. Although a few were supportive, a significant majority of the comments were critical.
Some of the more interesting comments were by Adam Lamparello, Scott Fruehwald, Yale Law School, CLEA, Various Law Professors. (Note: the fact that I call them interesting does not mean that I agree with all of them.)
There are several articles concerning the academy's and bar's reaction to the proposals:
Hon. Kenneth L. Markus ( Founder and Chairman, Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law), Legal Scholars Castigate the American Bar Association’s Proposed Diversity Standards
Richard Peltz-Steele (Massachusetts), Law profs fault vague, empty ABA 'diversity' proposal
Karen Sloan (Law.Com), ABA Gets an Earful Over Proposed Diversity Training Mandate for Law Students
As I mentioned earlier this week, I am particularly troubled by the proposal concerning 303(c) because it is based on unproven and disputed social science.
The Council should next consider these matters in August.