Forbes article focusing on law schools, competencies and skills development

Earlier this week, Forbes contributor Mark A. Cohen discussed what he calls “the interdependency — and misalignment —   of law school stakeholders.”  Cohen refers to a comment in a recent speech by Mark Smolik, the general counsel of DHL Supply Chain Americas, that  “he would no longer subsidize on-the-job-training of law firm associates.”  According to Cohen, Smolick’s remarks are an

indictment of the Academy for its failure to produce practice-ready graduates with required skillsets and a swipe at law firms for their failure to more fully invest in associate training to drive client value.

Cohen is urging today’s law students to look to the marketplace for “efficient, accessible, cost-effective, and just-in-time learning tools available to fill knowledge gaps and to teach new skills.” He boasts about one product that produces “high quality videos” and uses “flipped classrooms.”

I don’t disagree that law schools need to transform faster, provide more skill building,  emphasize the business context in which lawyers are hired to help, and prepare law students for the team realities of today and tomorrow’s economy.  And I appreciate Cohen’s raising this issue and inviting discussion. But his claim that only a “handful” of law schools are savvy on these issues – or as he put it have “yet to read the memo” – made my Irish blood boil. Maybe it is because it is the end of the week and I’m just tired? Maybe it is because I  just recently (September 13th) hosted yet another Flipping (every pun intended) workshop at our school showcasing all the great work being done by my colleagues in flipping their classroom? Maybe it is because if Cohen googled law schools and flipping classrooms,  he would have found Michele Pistone’s fabulous LegalED information? Maybe it is because he could have found this blogsite pretty high up on that google search and clicked on a number of posts such as here and here  and here and here and here  and here ?  Maybe it is because  nobody is noticing the work of folks like my faculty colleague Antony Haynes on innovative online opportunities?

I invite you to read the article, see what you think and tell us on this blog about what Cohen missed happening at your school!

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5 Responses

  1. At Qatar University School of Law, we have students do nearly all the assessments for Legal Research and Writing during class when the professor can help. This additional support is helpful when working across legal cultures, cultures, and languages.

  2. Thank you Paula for reminding us of the benefit of flipped classrooms in an international setting and multicultural setting, which describes most Law classrooms.

  3. What he is missing is that, not only do law schools need to use new technologies, they need to use new teaching/learning techniques. In fact, I would say that the new teaching/learning techniques are even more important than the technology. These techniques include active learning, formative assessment, self-testing, teaching metacognitive skills, spaced study, etc. Of course, the new technologies can use the new teaching/learning techniques.

  4. Great point Scott! the learning leads the technology not the other way around!

  5. What I found frustrating about the article was it treated an old, well-known problem as if it was new, but didn’t deeply engage with the details. It barely touches the changes that have arisen across the country in recent years in that area (e.g. the rise of simulation courses as an option and the required experiential learning credits). It complains law schools are too expensive, but doesn’t engage with the cost to expand experiential programs. It criticizes the elitist mindset of faculties, but then looks at only Stanford (#2), Northwestern (#10), and Michigan State (#96). Overall, it offers few solutions. It doesn’t help much to complain about a problem most law schools already agree is a problem; we need solutions, and the article is light on them.

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