A couple of weeks ago Justin blogged in The Shark about Washington and Lee’s changes to their third year law school curriculum and the slow rate of change within legal education system. Today, I ran across a mobblog over at the Madisonian entitled “What Kind of Institution Do We Want a Law School To Be?”
In the mobblog, UC Irvine School of Law’s newly minted Dean Chemerinsky discusses his plan to include more experiential learning in Irvine’s first year curriculum. (Take that Washington and Lee!) He also outlines Irvine’s commitment to emphasizing interdisciplinary courses and dual degree programs.
Professor Alfred Brophy of the University of Alabama takes Dean Chemerinsky’s interdisciplinary sentiment even further, imagining law school as a mini-university in the mold of a liberal arts college that focuses on a broad range of subjects.
My favorite post from the mobblog so far was contributed by Professor Nate Oman of the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at The College of William and Mary.
Professor Oman questions the assumption that law schools should be teaching legal practice at all. He argues that law professors know theory and should teach theory, and law students should get practical knowledge from practitioners in legal apprenticeships after law school.
If I could redesign the All-American Law School, I would design it in a combination of these images.
A two year school-based program emphasizing theory and interdisciplinary studies, followed by a one year apprenticeship to nail down the practical aspects. In my second year I am finding it difficult to schedule the core classes employers want to see on a resume, the interesting courses I want to take for my own enjoyment and personal edification, and the skills courses I think will help me succeed in whatever practice area I decide to pursue. A broader academic base in the first two years would give students the time and intellectual freedom to really figure out what kind of practice they want to pursue, and a third year apprenticeship would allow for practical development in that area.
Although these ideas are unlikely to become law school reality anytime soon, it’s exciting to see talented people thinking critically and creatively about the future of law schools as institutions.