Wednesday October 31, 2007

Forget the Lawyer Jokes

The New York Times features an effort by the University of Dayton, Harvard University, Stanford University and other law schools to modify the curriculum to better train lawyers.

The University of Dayton School of Law's new curriculum has captured the attention of the national media — and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Lisa Kloppenberg, dean of the University of Dayton's School of Law, is quoted in the Oct. 31 issue of The New York Times about a national effort to change the way aspiring lawyers are taught. UD's new curriculum features an accelerated, two-year program, mandatory externships and a skills-based competency test. Law schools face dual responsibilities — preparing students to pass the bar exam and training them to practice law in a field that requires skills beyond the analytical.

"It's a balancing act," Kloppenberg told The New York Times. To help better prepare students for practice, the law school in 2005 introduced a requirement that all students participate in an "externship," an apprenticeship with a practicing lawyer, as part of its "lawyer as problem solver" program.

The University of Dayton is one of 10 law schools in the country participating in a Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching project to examine the way law schools teach and recommend curricular changes. The national dialogue begins Dec. 7-8 at Stanford Law School.

Since 2005, the School of Law's new curriculum has prompted attention from Time magazine, U.S. News and World Report, The Chronicle of Higher Education, the national Associated Press wire, National Public Radio, CNN Radio, the national legal press and regional media.