Legal Education and Professional Identity, by Steve Friedland

I participated in a discussion group about teaching the formation of professional identity at the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) conference in early August, led by Professors Ben Madison of Regent University School of Law and David Thomson of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.  It was clear there was lots of passion in the room to engage students in the formation of professional identity directly and throughout law school.  The real question was how to do it.  There were some very good ideas of how to do it within the parameters of traditional classes, such as Professional Ethics, and how to do it outside of classes by affecting the culture of a school and its environments.

One of the main problems in this area, it seems to me, is that the notion of ‘professionalism’ is often a foreign concept to students; after all, until someone becomes a lawyer, how will they understand what this means?  This is where learning science comes into play, specifically experiential education, the kind advocated by David Kolb in his famous experiential learning cycle way back in 1984.  Kolb suggested that experience should be used as a learning tool in stages. An experience serves as the first stage, and is then followed by reflection, abstraction and theorization, and finally, the transfer of knowledge to new problems or questions.

This learning cycle fits into real life quite well.  If one is learning to drive, for example, then it is important to progress from the classroom to the passenger seat to the driver’s seat.  Of course, the ‘driver’s seat’ need not be attached to a two thousand pounds of nuts, bolts and engine, but can at first be behind the wheel of a simulator.  Simulation and exercises in legal education also can serve as a platform for the formation of professional identity.  For example, a simulated oral argument about a case could involve two teams of students asked to argue different positions.  This division into groups requires collaborative work and presents an opportunity to explore how professionals participate and communicate on teams.

Students also could be given non-legal exercises that raise professional identity issues.  If students were walking home from school one night and see a $20 bill sticking out of an ATM machine with no one else around, would they take it?  Why or why not?  Does it matter whether the students were now working in a courthouse where the ATM is located or working as a lawyer for the bank that owns the ATM?

From a different perspective, what if the students were mountain climbing in the Andes Mountains and were roped up with the person closest to them in the entire world at 20,000 feet. In this hypo, the person roped to the student slips and falls off of the mountain.  The only way the student can save him or herself is to cut the rope, leading to a long fall for person #2.  Would the student cut the rope?  This question raises professional ethics of a different kind — what is the mountain climber code in this situation?  Also, what factors would the student consider in making such a decision? (A somewhat similar situation actually occurred in real life with two mountain climbers high in the Andes.  The mountain climber on the mountain cut the rope and the other climber, dangling below, fell, but survived.  I would have loved to have eavesdropped on their conversation at the bottom of the mountain. See Touching the Void (2003), based on a 1988 book by Joe Simpson of the same name.)

All told, the formation of professional identity can help students connect with and maintain the values that might have landed them in law school in the first place.  And it could weave into the understanding of law the importance of the lawyer’s role within the system – and how service to others might require a different application of values than service to oneself.

Shultz and Zedeck: Collaboration and Motivation in Orientation!

One-Ls at Albany Law, just like those at many other schools, are in the midst of Fall 2014 Orientation. Today, I participated as a  “faculty observer” in a collaborative skill building exercise organized by our Associate Dean Alicia Ouellette.  Imagine my delight to see copies of Schultz and Zedeck’s 26 lawyering effectiveness factors distributed at each table in the school gym!

Teams of 20-25 students, most of whom had either just met each other or not yet met, were tasked with:

  • Assembling a small children’s bike (to be donated to the Boys and Girls Club); the first team to both build the bike and have a team member ride the teeny-tiny bike around the orange cone course set in the gym would be declared winner. :)
  • Building the tallest pasta-marshmallow structure
  • Making sure every student on the team participated in the endeavor.

Faculty participants were assigned to observe what they saw happen during the group exercise, report their observations to their student team, and explore with the student teams questions such as:

  • what worked well?
  • what was challenging about  mandatory collaboration?
  • what might they have done differently to more effectively collaborate?
  • what might these exercises suggest about effective lawyering?

The students brought good humor to the task.  They brought a range of experiences, including a few with engineering backgrounds and/or “mom/dad” know-how, and a range of abilities. The fact that the bikes were to be REALLY used by local community members was a motivating factor.  In fact, students vocally expressed concern about the safety of the quickly assembled bikes noting,  “Remember, some kid is going to ride this!” and “It has to be safe.”

By the end of the assigned time period, everyone in my group had participated …. at least a bit. The debriefing was more effective than one might have predicted. One student on my team noted gender differences in approaches – a number of women were reading instructions for assembling the bike while a few of the males started to immediately put pieces of the bike together. This led to a discussion of THE CONFIDENCE GAP.  Another student noted the difference between working on a task when you know what the outcome should look like (the bike) and working on a concept without a uniform or agreed upon vision of what the outcome looks like (the highest pasta structure). Many students reflected on the significant importance of communication skills, particularly listening.

Other teams reflected on the challenge of being asked to accomplish a collective task when most members of the team felt inadequately prepared. With faculty guidance, that team explored when that might happen in law school or in practice.  Issues such as time management, resource management – one team ran out of tape – and problem solving techniques were also discussed. Students, encouraged by faculty suggestions, also pondered what kind of teams they might participate in their post-graduation future .

As I looked around the tables, I could not help but think of Richard Susskind’s book,  Tomorrows Lawyers.  These one-Ls will be entering a profession and a world in which working with others, problem solving, creative thinking, and clear communication will be even more critical for those in our profession than in times past.   As graduates, these students will be participating in teams and in collaborative enterprises that we faculty probably cannot now envision.  However, it is our job to facilitate their acquisition of the kinds of skills and capacities and attitudes that will best serve them in the uncertain but potentially exciting future.   Happy New Semester all! Happy Facilitating!

Orientation 20140813_142119


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The Baby Has Finally Been Birthed!

Comprehensive revisions passed

The ABA House of Delegates passed the comprehensve revisions with “minimal  fuss” according to the ABA Journal linked  above.  One area, however, garnered  significant attention and also resulted in  an odd, though perhaps meaningless ,  procedural move.  The House voted  to send back to the Section on Legal Education for further consideration the comment to standard 305 which prohibits payment to students for credit-based courses.

What does this mean? Law schools which have not already done so must start identifying, articulating publicly and assessing student learning out outcomes, providing every student six  credits of clinic or clinic-like experiential courses and requiring students to take two credit hours worth of professional responsibility coursework.

Well, it’s a start……

Wishing students success on the bar exam

The Bar Exam is upcoming. And with it comes heightened stress and potential for students, but also an odd chance for diverging interests between a small number of students and their law schools.

Bar exam homonyms: high stakes; gateway, leveler, stressor, useless unnecessary burden after three years of school, fee generator, standardizing, and proficiency. I’m sure “bar exam” conjures up many more thoughts and meanings for others. For law students, the impact of this exam is wide-ranging. Most graduates spend months of intensive study preparing for the bar exam. They incur additional debt for these review courses; they devote months of their lives to study intensively for the exam. Exam passage marks the entree into our profession with all of its benefits and burdens. Exam passage allows our graduates to practice law and makes more likely their getting and keeping a job sooner rather than later.

While for individual students, we provide encouragement, cajoling, and hope for exam success, their exam success has an additional impact on us. For law schools, the bar exam is a factor in accreditation and in reputation. The ABA accreditation standards require a law school to meet a bar pass requirement that can be done in one of two ways: “either by showing that 75 percent of its graduates who took the bar exam in at least three of the previous five years passed or by showing that its graduates’ first-time bar pass rate was no more than 15 points below the average bar pass rate for ABA-approved schools in states where its graduates took the bar.” The ABA, this spring, did not follow through on a proposal that would have increased the passage percent rate requirement from 75 to 80 percent. This connection to accreditation, while arguably standardizing law schools, can recast student success on the bar exam from an individual achievement and triumph to an institutional success or failure.

Therein lies a challenge for a small number of students – reconciling the individual student’s path toward bar exam success with institutional markers of success. Where one student may benefit from repeated attempts at taking the exam, gaining familiarity and comfort and so easing stress that inhibits success, the student’s school must count that student’s learning process as a “failure” against institutional success and reputation. To foster institutional reputation, encouraging some students to wait to take the bar exam seems a good path; on the other hand, for the student who would benefit from the exposure, supporting the student’s decision to take and re-take may be the better path for the student even if not for the institution. A delicate balance is needed when we approach those students who are at risk of not passing the bar exam.

Of course, student success or failure arises from many factors, and the choice to take the exam in the face of difficulties is the graduate’s. It’s also worth remembering that many famous people did not pass the bar exam on their first try including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Lady Michelle Obama, and even Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo. So, I’m going to encourage all of our students to know themselves, to work as hard as they can in the way that works best for them, and of course: wish all students success on the bar exam.

Thirty-One Themes of Thought

“Thirty-One Themes of Thought” is the title I gave my fifth grade class poetry compilation.  What could this possibly have to do with best practices for law professors?

This post, my first for this blog I have long admired, I conceived as a commentary on what I call my “thematic” approach to law teaching.  In my doctrinal Family Law course as well as in my Family Law Clinic I stress recurring themes: the intense public-private tension inherent to Family Law; social change as catalyst for legal developments; storytelling as advocacy; client-centeredness; and holistic lawyering.

As I pondered this concept of “thematic teaching” my mind wandered repeatedly to that alliterative “Title” my 10-year-old brain fashioned . . . 35 years ago.  My use of the word “theme” was likely less about dedication to big-picture thinking than it was about grappling for a word other than “poem” to make my little manila-folder-booklet different from the rest in some small way.  Yet upon further reflection I find a resonance in that word choice with my current work and my teaching style.  Calling my booklet “Themes of Thought,” I believe demonstrated a constant yearning for connectivity (hence the alliteration) and a broad view (referencing the “thought” our class put into each poem)  that is part of my identity.

Taking a thematic approach to law teaching is not something I was taught–it is something that I developed organically as I grew the past 12 years as an educator.  And although I have been aware of it as my approach for years, I just a few months ago began to name it and reflect on it.  Reflection, I firmly believe, is a fundamental aspect of my professional growth as a professor and a lawyer, but also of my students’ growth.  Reflection as a tool in clinical law teaching is nothing new.  I first experienced it as a law student invited/required to submit journals routinely during my clinical year.  Borrowing that tool from my mentors was arguably the single best decision I made as a new clinical professor four years ago.  Reflection fosters self-awareness, which fosters a maximization of strengths.  Lawyers work hard, think critically and often receive little praise from clients and judges alike–not to mention opposing counsel.  Reflecting on one’s accomplishments and professional development, in addition to client interactions, shows budding lawyer (our students) that they can do this work and in fact are doing it well on many fronts.  By the same token, the opporutnity for feedback from their professor or other clinical supervisor through submission of journals is a safe and controlled space to reflect on mistakes and engage in contemplation about how to improve skills while a mentor helps them process those often uncomfortable realities.

This methodology of reflection and self-awareness is different in the traditional law school classroom setting than clinics, but it can be done.  Several colleagues have written and presented at conferences on using written reflections and other tools in non-clinical classrooms.  In my thematic teaching paradigm, I use several approaches in my Family Law lecture course, which often holds enrollment of over 50 students:

1. On Day One of class I explain the main theme of the course, which is the public-private tension mentioned above.

2. My “big picture” approach is evident from both my remarks that day in class; my syllabus which describes each class period’s theme; and the casebook, which opens with commentary on that very same public-private tension unique to Family Law.

3. I assign casebook material for Day One, comprised of several United States Supreme Court cases interpreting Due Process liberty interests.  During class I ask students to ponder why a course on Family Law suddenly looks so much like a Constitutional Law course.  Drawing their attention back to the public-private tension theme, I remind the students that Due Process liberty inquiries center around that same public-private tension.

4.  One Day One I dispense the material via lecture and PowerPoint, but clarify that I use the Socratic method from Day Two forward and call on students at random.  The Socratic method promotes self-awareness and reflection in a way no other methodology can offer, when managed successfully.  Each teacher must define success for themselves, but for me it means engaging the student about why they responded as they did, regardless of the accuracy of that response.  Even if the response is flawed in some way, I invite them to thoroughly vet it.  Then I clarify any flaws–with compassion and professional respect.

5. Volunteered answers, and questions, are welcomed in my classroom.  The questions are particularly useful for promoting reflection as well as larger themes, as they often stem from common public misconceptions about Family Law ripe for discussion.

6. Returning back to Day One for a moment, I ask the students something critcal after my introduction of the course themes and my teaching style, but before my lecture on the assigned material.  I invite them to mindfully reflect on whether this course will serve their needs as a learner.  Immediately, they as listeners are cued to reflect what they do need as learners of the law.  With what I hope is humility, I remind them that my brilliant colleague Dara Purvis also teaches Family Law and they can take the course with either prof. Students dropping my course after hearing that speech does not offend or scare me, and I stress that.  Occasionally a student walks out at that point, never to return.  That is utterly fine.

7. Finally, the final exam.  After a semester of thematic teaching and, one can assume at least a sliver of reflective learning, the students are asked at least one question on my exam about the public policy aspect of Family Law. The question is not a fact pattern.  Other parts of my exam utilize those.  But the policy question asks them to consider (and sometimes describe) an area of Family Law and what they learned about it, and opine on the efficacy of that legal framework or approach.  I like to end the semester the way we began, with reflection on the big picture, with consideration of our legal system as social underpinning.  How does the law reflect our values and social norms? Who gets to define those norms?  How much government regulation of private decision-making on personal matters is too much?

What is your signature teaching approach?  I ask my clinic students to reflect on what is their unique style of lawyering.  As their teachers I believe we are well served by reflecting on what is our unique style of teaching. The growth among our academy and our students is symbiotic.  Let us embrace that.

Writing about Teaching Literature

Mary Lynch:

This may be helpful for those of us whose summer plans include scholarship on teaching and learning.
….. And speaking of the fruits of our labor, the blueberries in the farmers markets on the East Coast are really spectacularly delicious right now.
What “fruit” scholarly or organic appeals to you this summer?

Originally posted on Teaching & Learning in Higher Ed.:

"Writing" by Jeffrey James Pacres (CC BY-NC-ND)by Laura L. Runge

The MLA recently released its long-awaited report on Doctoral Study in Modern Languages and Literature. Among its recommendations, the report argues for greater support and value for teacher-training. Although not an early harbinger of change, the report gives a welcome endorsement to strategies that we have seen developing in doctoral programs around the country.Report of the MLA Task Force on Doctoral  Study in Modern Language and Literature I’ve taught a practicum in teaching literature at the University of South Florida since 2004. I’ve also written two teaching guides for Norton and a couple of articles on pedagogy. Whereas in the earlier days I felt something like of a lone voice in the wilderness among my colleagues in English, I’ve watched the scholarship on teaching transform to a diverse and robust field.

There are now many opportunities to share our scholarship on teaching and learning, and there is much to be learned from the variety of classroom experiences in…

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Trauma Informed Services and Trauma Informed Supervision (Another Post From “the Real World”)

Originally posted on Asedillolopez's Weblog:

In my new position as executive director of a non-profit dedicated to eliminating domestic violence, I have learned a lot about trauma.  Trauma causes three main automatic reactions in the brain:  Fight, flight or freeze.  Trauma also makes us more sensitive to triggering events that can recall the trauma in our brains.  A smell, the slamming of a door, a sharp noise, even a tone of voice can trigger a reexperice of the traumatic event.  And, service providers, including lawyers, experience vicarious trauma by listening to the stories of traumatic events experience by others.  Knowing that this is happening is the first step in learning how to address the effects of truama.  At Enlace Comunitario, we try to have polcies that don’t retraumatize our clients.  We try to have a warm and welcoming waiting room and we don’t have harsh policies such as cancelling an appointment for someone who comes…

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ABA Council on Legal Education Maintains Separation Between Paid Work and Academic Externships

Last week, the ABA Council on the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar (Council) approved a comprehensive revision of the accreditation standards for law schools and moved the package of revisions on to the ABA House of Delegates for approval at its August meeting.   Before finalizing the package of revisions, the Council voted on the  Standards Review Committee ‘s   recommendation to remove  the bar on paid externships,  a recommendation strongly supported by the ABA Law Student Division.   The Council rejected that proposal and voted to maintain the separation between academic externships and paid work.   The National Law Journal reported on the Council’s action and quoted Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director for admissions and legal education, “The council received a lot of comments and decided to not make the change. The fundamental reason is this perceived tension between the obligations of someone who is a paid employee and a student.”

At first blush, paid externships sounds positive — a  way to assist law students in reducing their debt while engaging in experiential learning.   That point has been argued by the Law Student Division.  However, as I discussed back in February,   permitting paid externships would create new problems.  One of the more likely outcomes was identified in the comment submitted by the Clinical Legal Education Association,

But those employers that are most capable of affording the full cost of a “paid externship” are also likely to accept only externship students who they deem qualified for long-term employment. Reliance on class rank would become the norm for “paid externship” placements. Traditionally, clinical courses have provided opportunities for all students to hone their abilities and prepare for practice. Students who are not at the top of the class have benefited from a chance to develop and demonstrate abilities that do not emerge in an exam. Particularly in light of the legal market and the needs of our students, CLEA is profoundly concerned about a change in the Interpretation that would benefit only students whose rankings are at the top of the class.

Moreover, those employers able to bear the full cost of a “paid externship” would more than likely “shop”among law schools. Faced with the choice of establishing a recruitment program with a school in the top tier or with a school in the third tier, CLEA believes that employers would choose the former. We suggest that revoking Interpretation 305-3 would limit the availability of certain kinds of experience to top-ranking students at top-tier schools and severely restrict students’ opportunities to participate in clinical and experiential education.

In short, CLEA strongly supports the interests of students, by seeking to assure that all students at all schools engage in high quality work, under close and careful supervision. We want more for our students than checking cites and reviewing depositions. We seek a set of standards that ensures high quality clinical legal education, in which supervisors are fully invested in teaching and mentoring students. CLEA encourages mandates that will result in equal access to all courses and for all law students. It is in the best interests of students to preserve a separate market for paid employment in which students are compensated with the fair market value of their work. Permitting the mixture of educational and employment functions will result in the diminishment of value for each, harming both students and law schools.

In its comment, the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT’) raised excellent questions about the the  likely, although unintended, consequences,

Having employers pay students also raises difficult questions about control of the assignment and crediting process. Could the employer fire a student for not performing at high enough levels?
Would a faculty supervisor be able to reassign a student if the employer failed to provide adequate onsite supervision if that would have implications for other students working for that employer, with or
without receiving academic credit? Could students refuse tasks assigned by their paying employer if those tasks were not consistent with the learning goals and the placement expectations? Would students be willing to discuss frankly with faculty supervisors any externship site supervision problems if they worried that it could mean displeasing an employer and potentially losing income. These are just
some of the troubling pedagogical issues likely to arise if students earn academic credit for paid employment.

We do need to find ways to reduce law school costs and defray student debt,   but not at the expense of providing appropriately designed and equally available academic experiences.  The Council made the right decision for legal education and for law students.




Innovative licensing of architects – a model for the legal profession?

While many who comment about the design of legal education look to medical schools, it seems to me that architecture schools provide another useful model. The architecture curriculum integrates classroom instruction with a central role for the studio (the equivalent of simulation or clinical work in law school), and the review of student work (also called critique or “crit”) is central to the studio. There may be lessons to be learned.
Now an alternative method of licensure (similar to the Daniel Webster Scholars Program in New Hampshire, but on a larger scale) is being considered:
NCARB Endorses New Path to Becoming an Architect:  Architect Licensure Upon Graduation

Incorporating internship and examination requirements into university education, the regulatory organization aims to simplify and accelerate the licensing process.

30 May 2014
Washington, DC—The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Board of Directors has announced their endorsement of the concept of an additional, structured path that leads to licensure in a U.S. jurisdiction. The new path—licensure upon graduation from an accredited program—would integrate the rigorous internship and examination requirements that aspiring architects must fulfill into the years spent completing a professional degree in architecture.
The concept was designed by a distinguished group of volunteers convened by NCARB, which recommends national architect registration standards, called the Licensure Task Force. This group, which was initially formed in mid-2013, is headed by NCARB’s Immediate Past President Ron Blitch of Louisiana, and it includes former and current leaders of NCARB, the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Association of Colleges and Schools of Architecture (ACSA), and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), as well as interns, recently licensed architects, program deans and instructors, and jurisdictional licensing board representatives.
A Progressive Path
Describing the work of the Licensure Task Force, NCARB CEO Michael Armstrong said, “NCARB is engaged in streamlining and simplifying the licensing process for aspiring architects, and we are actively re-engineering all elements of the architectural licensing process—education, experience and examination—to focus on facilitation of licensing.”
“This additional path to licensure is another concrete step to reimagining and reconfiguring each part of the process while upholding the rigorous standards needed to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare,” he said.
This progressive concept was borne of research and development efforts by the Licensure Task Force, with leaders from diverse segments of the architectural community to analyze each component of the licensure process to identify overlaps and redundancies to existing programs.
Now beginning the second year, the Licensure Task Force will start to identify schools interested in participating in the program. NCARB expects to issue schools Requests for Information later in the year, followed by a Request for Proposal process in 2015.
Exam Evolution
In addition to the licensure work, NCARB also announced this month that a transition plan is underway to guide the implementation of major improvements and changes to the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®), the test that all prospective architects must take to get their licenses. The new ARE 5.0 will launch in late 2016, while ARE 4.0 will remain available for at least 18 months after the launch.
The exam is required by all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands for initial architectural licensure by assessing candidates for their knowledge, skills, and ability to provide all services required in the practice of architecture.


REMINDER: Educating the Transactional Lawyer of Tomorrow

Tina L. Stark Gives Kickoff Speech for Emory Law’s Conference on Transactional Law Education,

June 6-7

REMINDER:  If you haven’t yet registered for Emory Law’s Fourth Biennial Conference on Teaching Transactional Law and Skills, entitled “Educating the Transactional Lawyer of Tomorrow,” you should do so now.

Tina L. Stark will return to Emory to kick off the Conference by updating the fantasy curriculum that she proposed in her speech at the inaugural conference in 2008.  On Day Two, the keynote panel will address the topic, “Skills is Not a Dirty Word:  Identifying and Teaching Transactional Law Competencies.”

You won’t want to miss these or the many other terrific sessions we have planned.  You can register for the Conference by clicking here.  If you have any questions about registration, please contact the Conference Coordinator, Edna Patterson, at

Please click here to download the 2014 Conference Schedule.

I hope to see you in June.


Sue Payne

Executive Director

Center for Transactional Law and Practice

Emory University

1301 Clifton Road

Atlanta, Georgia  30322-2770


Five Tool Lawyers

Leading Northwest legal practitioner and technology entrepreneur Marty Smith has an interesting post on the Five Tool Lawyer over at Legal Refresh. Using the metaphor of the Five Tool Lawyer, Marty breaks apart the stages of problem solving, incorporating risk analysis in a way I found helpful. In my response Five Tool Lawyers and Legal Education, I critique aspects of the Five Tool Lawyer metaphor for compressing too much into the 1st [Use interviewing skills to gather client facts, goals and needs] and 5th tools[Counsel, document, negotiate and advocate on behalf of client]. But here’s why I thought the metaphor was compelling:

"Compelling, because [it] moves beyond issue spotting v. problem solving to articulate the stages of problem solving, targeting a spotlight on often overlooked aspects. . . . By focusing on risk, the metaphor highlights two often neglected stages of the lawyer’s work – “use judgment to assess actual risks” and “problem solve for best way to meet client’s needs with minimal risk.” At the same time, it implicitly places the legal problem in the larger context of the individual’s life, or the business’s health. And it underscores the fact that lawyers need to know how to assess the significance of legal risks within that larger context."

Prepared to Practice?

This article in the New York Times is about a different profession, but it seems familiar.

New York Law Journal Special Report on Experiential Learning & Charting a Career Path

Wanted to get this Special Report out to you ASAP! I am poring over it now and will report back soon!

 View the Digital Edition of this Special Report.

Experiential Learning: Practice Makes Perfect

Bruce A. Green, the Louis Stein Professor at Fordham Law School, writes: Making students ready for practice is not just a task for the formal curriculum. Law students spend much of their time in law-related pursuits outside the classroom including in extracurricular activities and part-time and summer employment. Law schools strive to help students make the most of these opportunities.

Theory Makes Successful Lawyering Possible

Jeremy Paul, dean of Northeastern University School of Law, writes that the over-emphasis on the divide between theory and practice lurking within today’s calls for law school reform obscures a far more basic reality. Grounding in “theory” is what makes successful lawyering possible in the first place.

Alternative Career Tracks Are Innovative and Necessary

Richard A. Rosenbaum, the chief executive officer of Greenberg Traurig in Manhattan, writes: Law schools, firms and seasoned attorneys must continue to work together to creatively ensure that we keep open the doors of opportunity to emerging legal talent.

Building ‘Collaborative Intelligence’ in a Challenging Legal Market

Alison Nina Bernard, the director of corporate practice at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, and Niki Kopsidas who oversees firm-wide lateral partner hiring and integration at Blank Rome, write: In today’s highly competitive legal market, an attorney needs a high level of Collaborative Intelligence to help clients meet their strategic business goals, and law firms and other legal organizations need to foster a culture where knowledge and expertise are shared openly and effectively.

Recalculating Goals to Move Forward

Jill Backer, associate director for employer relations at Brooklyn Law School, writes: Because plans and people change, as do industries and the employment market, your goals must be able to change as well. If your goals are resilient then you can be too.


Read more:


Agenda Circulated For April 25th Standards Review Committee Meeting

As readers to this blog know from earlier posts, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar completed almost all of its work on comprehensive review at its meeting held on March 14-15, 2014. Importantly, the proposed changes  incorporate identification and assessment of student learning outcomes into the Standards.  In March, the Council also approved a few final matters for Notice and Comment:

  • Interpretation 305-3 (Study Outside the Classroom)
  • Interpretation 503-3 (Admission Test)
  • Standard 505 (Granting of J.D. Degree Credit for Prior Law Study)
  • Chapter 8 (Council Authority, Variances, and Amendments)
  • Definitions
  • Rules of Procedure

Today,  the  Standards Review Committee (which reports “up to the Council”)  posted the  agenda and supporting materials for its next meeting which will be held in St. Louis on April 25th .   The agenda begins with a Hearing on the matters out for Notice and Comment: Interpretation 305-3, Interpretation 503-3, Standard 505, and Chapter 8.   The SRC will review  the posted comments as well as  the draft final report of the proposed comprehensive changes.

The posted material also  includes a helpful summary of Council actions ( Council acts on ABA law school approval standards at March 2014 meeting) and a statement of next steps:

The complete set of revisions is expected to be reviewed by the ABA House of Delegates in August 2014 in accordance with House Rule 45.9. The House may either concur with the Council’s decisions or refer a proposed change back to the Council for further consideration. Any reference back to the Council must include a statement setting forth the reasons for the referral. A decision by the Council is subject to a maximum of two referrals back to the Council by the House. The decision by the Council following the second referral is final.

The end of this comprehensive review is in sight!

“Don’t Skimp on Legal Training” NYT Editorial by Chemerinsky & Menkel-Meadow



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