Law jobs are way down. So how are the law schools reacting – by changing their curricula to adapt to the changed conditions, mainly by giving greater emphasis to practical courses like clinics and simulations. The National Law Journal reports.
The dismal job market for newly minted lawyers has influenced how most law school administrators approach their course offerings, with 76 percent of the institutions surveyed reporting that they’ve modified their curricula to adapt, according to the American Bar Association’s first empirical survey of law school curricula in a decade.
So-called practical skills courses — clinics, simulations and externships — are on the rise. Media scrutiny of law school curricula has fueled some of the changes, according to the chair of the ABA committee that produced the report.
The survey uses the findings of a previous ABA study of curricula that covered the years 1992 to 2002 as a baseline for comparison.
“The survey responses reveal a renewed commitment by law schools to review and revise their curricula to produce practice-ready professionals,” said Hulett “Bucky” Askew, the ABA’s consultant on legal education. “The report illuminates the extent to which faculties and administrators have responded to the evolving needs of their students and to changes in the legal services industry.”
Media scrutiny of law school curricula has also fueled some of the changes, said Southwestern Law School Professor Catherine Carpenter, chair of the ABA committee that produced the report.
Additionally, more than half of the schools surveyed reported being influenced by two separate reports that called for more professionalism and real-world skills in law schools: The so-called Carnegie Report and Best Practices for Legal Education, both published in 2007.
“Wholesale curricular review has produced experimentation and change at all levels of the curriculum, resulting in new programs and courses, new and enhanced experiential learning, and greater emphasis on various kinds of writing across the curriculum,” Carpenter said.