Law School: Legal Negligence, Or just old and senile? Part 1
Thinking of that wooden gavel slamming down, or how that door slams behind you as you enter class— it’s hard not to feel like you and everyone around you has been sentenced to prison. Or perhaps you’ve been taken back in time to the days where the courts condemned “witches” to their fiery graves? Admittedly, this isn’t a perfect law school metaphor, but it’s what our legal education feels like to us. And we are guessing that most law students will sense where we are going with this. The point is: we are willing to accept that the Law may be as ancient as the pyramids (changing the law itself is a separate issue), but law schools still function today, and they need to evolve the way their students learn, and that change needs to happen Now. Otherwise, law schools increasingly risk being named parties to causes of action by their very own students — or worse, becoming obsolete.
The Initial Premise: The responsibility for making innovations in the education of the law and placing students in a position upon graduation to practice that which they have paid such a high premium to learn, on their own if they so choose, rests with the schools, and not with the government or the students. Like every other law school, my own school, seemingly untroubled by academic skepticism of the wisdom of refusing to teach and reinforce skills relevant and practical to immediate use in the modern context, continues steadfastly to insist on its distinction as an academic institution of yesterday from that of a business — whose very survival is linked to the incredible value it creates for its consumers. Where businesses achieve this value through their people, service, support, and most importantly, ability to remain competitive through innovation, Law schools continue to be “distinguished”.
Education Reform is not a novel idea. Law schools need to embrace change and start thinking more like successful start-ups. It’s all about delivering value. The landscape has changed dramatically, with new entrants and technologies offering completely new approaches to learning. If they don’t keep up, they’ll set up generations for failure.
Cont’d : Law school is certainly a huge risk in today’s market. (Don’t believe me? — read just about anything on law school). Students who do attend, weigh the risks as much as possible before committing. However, students only truly begin to understand the issues once they have matriculated into the system. These students, like ourselves, who have taken the leap of faith, need not be let down. It is time for schools to simulate the modern work place and adopt new technology that will bring machine learning into the hands of law students. Law students are not asking for anything to get easier, just more transparency and a better experience in developing the skills to control their own destiny — as they were allegedly promised.
Here are my initial suggestions:
4-steps to effective legal education:
- Integrate new technology and applications (NextGen systems) into the classroom that will mirror the types of systems clients and firms will use. As the general counsel role is projected to become more prominent and a major source of opportunity for JD students, familiarity with the internal systems of tomorrow’s businesses is essential.
- Create collaborative learning/working environments using these systems. This will provide transparency for both teachers and students to gauge their thought processes against other students and increase time and cost efficiency of research and product output. Bringing a social component to the learning experience outside of the classroom is key to student motivation and discussing topic relevance in the world today.
- Teach prospecting and branding solutions to position the student for private practice or consulting, and help them build their personal or corporate brand. This would be very helpful for students waiting to transition into a firm setting.
- Adopt corporate partners who provide remedial work to students relevant to the topics being taught. Students can gain experience on a Probono basis and apply substantive law. Teachers can collaborate with students and classes will produce final work products. These works should then be evaluated and scrutinized by the end user.
So there you have it. A few ways to take legal education to the next level. This isn’t a comprehensive guide on what law schools need to do. Just a log on our initial thoughts and a prayer for someone to listen.
Stay tuned for our next article where we will further discuss Law School negligence as an action in Tort and provide some more clarity on these suggestions — to include recommended new software and apps for education that will allow students to remain competitive.
We live in an information age. People want to learn. More than anything, people want a world-view to get behind. Technology is the key to that future.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are exactly that, simply opinions. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of others. The designations employed in this publication and the presentation of material therein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of another besides the authors of this publication. The Great Dissent is a private endeavor and does not claim to be affiliated, or otherwise a party to, or part of, any other company, university, institution, publication, newspaper, online or otherwise…