BREAKING NEWS: LEARN Report Sent to all Deans

March 5, 2009
 
To:        Law School Deans & Associate Deans

From:      Steering Committee of LEARN (Legal Education Analysis & Reform
Network)

Re:        Outline of the Work that LEARN is Doing in Cooperation with the
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
______________________________________________________________________________

        Two years ago, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of
Teaching published its report on legal education, entitled Educating
Lawyers.  Since that time, based on the high level of interest the report
generated within the legal academy, the Foundation has joined with a group

of law schools and law faculty to engage in further efforts to encourage
reflection and innovation in legal education.  Working with Stanford Law
School, the Foundation has assembled a group of legal educators from ten
law schools which had expressed particular interest in working on this
phase of the project. (The ten schools are CUNY, Dayton, Georgetown,
Harvard, Indiana-Bloomington, New Mexico, NYU, Southwestern, Stanford, and

Vanderbilt.) The overall project has been named LEARN, which stands for
Legal Education Analysis and Reform Network.  We are writing to inform you

about these ongoing efforts.

        In December 2007 about 40 legal educators (three from each of the
ten law schools identified above and ten other faculty members) met in
Palo Alto to discuss strategies for change based on the themes explored in

Educating Lawyers and other pedagogical goals.  After two days of
meetings, we identified three major themes around which these strategies
cluster: (a) the structure of the law school curriculum as a whole; (b)
the teaching enterprise as practiced by individual faculty members; and
(c) the assessment of student learning. The participants divided
themselves up into working groups to continue articulating and planning
ways in which these strategies could be developed and pursued.  (A list of

each working group’s members appears in the beginning of the attached
LEARN Report.)

        After further conversations within and among the working groups,
LEARN has now drafted an outline of the initial projects it plans to
launch.  This outline is attached and can also be viewed at:
http://www.law.stanford.edu/display/images/dynamic/events_media/LEARN_030509_lr.pdf
        This outline forms the core of a proposal that is being submitted
requesting foundation funding for projects in each of these three areas.
The basic approach that the proposal adopts is to use small amounts of
money to encourage and catalyze the process of educational change in the
areas of law school structure, individual teaching, and learning
assessment. We are not seeking, and could not realistically expect to
obtain, sufficient funds to support major transformations of existing
programs at any particular American law school, to say nothing of a number

of them. Rather, the proposal seeks support for creation of resources and
employment of coordinators to help law schools, individual law teachers,
and experts in other fields (such as learning theory and student
assessment) make connections among themselves and learn from each other.

        These projects are only the first phase of our work. We expect to
work with law schools around the country, and to collaborate with other
ongoing projects, to identify other initiatives that we should launch as
the project develops and expands.

        As we explain in the Conclusion section of the attached proposal:

In describing the state of legal education in the 1940s, Karl Llewellyn
wrote that “[n]o faculty, and, I believe, not one percent of instructors,
knows what it is they are really trying to educate for.” In many ways,
legal education has come a long way since that time, but in many other
ways it has not. The stars have aligned now to create a prime moment of
opportunity for reflective, thoughtful, meaningful and lasting change. But

we need to seize the moment. LEARN has gathered law schools and educators
with the experience, imagination and gravitas to effect real improvements
in how the future lawyers of the country (and the world) are trained. With

the help of funders who understand the importance of the project, the
ripeness of the moment, and the extraordinary vehicle that LEARN provides,

great improvements can be achieved.

        We are writing at this point to inform you about LEARN and the
proposal and to invite you to be part of this ongoing effort. A summary of

the proposal is attached and we hope you will take the time to review it.
We will keep you updated about its progress, and as it secures funding,
the coordinators of its various components will be in touch with you about

the process of becoming further involved.  In the meantime, please feel
free to contact any member of the Steering Committee if you would like to
discuss any aspect of the project.

 
Steering Committee Coordinators:

Lawrence C. Marshall
Professor of Law
Stanford Law School
lmarshall@stanford.edu
650-723-7572

…… for rest of members, see Memo in the “Resources”  tab, above.

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