The Chronicle of Higher Education Takes Note of Best Practices

Two recent articles by Katherine Mangan promote Best Practices and some of the law schools that are working to implement reform. Her January 11th story, “All Rise. Welcome Law School,” describes Touro Law Center as creating change in legal education by “emphasizing practical skills from Day 1.”  Requiring all first-year students to observe courtroom sessions and promoting opportunities for students to watch trials at the nearby courthouses are small steps, but potentially meaningful ones. The article also recognizes Drake University, Elon University, and the University of New Mexico for responding constructively to last year’s published criticisms of legal education.  Mangan’s December 20, 2007 article, also in the Chronicle of Higher Education, mentions the November conference in South Carolina and quotes Judith Wegner, Edward Rubin, and Roy Stuckey!

While I don’t know what attitude law professors may typically have toward the Chronicle of Higher Education, it is a publication that many university educators read. Its articles are frequently circulated and discussed on our University’s faculty listserv. My husband, who teaches in the medical school at our institution, regularly reads the Chronicle. It seems very mainstream, while still promoting improvements to higher education.

At the University of North Dakota School of Law, where I teach, the administration has backed several professors in planning faculty seminars to discuss Best Practices and Educating Lawyers. The fact that a national publication devoted to higher education is taking note of the need for change in legal education, and recognizing schools that are implementing change, is something that will lend credibility to these internal discussions, which are no doubt taking place at many schools. I will be distributing these articles to encourage the mindset that the question is not whether to change, but how long an institution will wait before digging in to the inevitable work of improving legal education.

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