3rd Annual Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Conference, day 2, pm session 3

by Paul Maharg on 20/09/2014

Final session of the day.  Two presenters, first up Sarah Valentine, Academic Dean, CUNY School of Law.  She discussed the revisions to the ABA Standards for approved law schools, related to learning outcomes and experiential learning, particularly Standards.  Interesting because she was going in detail, via a handout, on what law schools are supposed to do according to the Standards and their guidelines on learning outcomes.  She was positive about the ways that the new Standards were framed.  I have to agree with her, when compared to the previous standards.  Schools can establish their own educational objectives and how they assess those objectives.  But at the same time, state and federal authorities, legislators and regulators, are going to be surely demanding more in the future.  She described in detail how CUNY was implementing the new Standards, including tussles with the Curriculum Committee, as you might expect.

Next Joe Rosenberg, CUNY, on the Law school curriculum and the Bar Exam (BE), which he subtitled provocatively (or probably not) ‘An Assessment Failure’.  He detailed the many reports in NY that had been produced, all to very little effect.  The BE’s emphasis on speed , on its record on diversity and much else required to be seriously reformed.  The forces for change are formidable — Bar preparation, jobs, A2J, student numbers, and law schools are at the centre of it all.   BE as an assessment, he argued, is the missing link.  It drives curricular choices, moves against experiential learning, stops innovation.  He held up the Daniel Webster Honors Program as an example of a creative way around the BE.  NY is adding A2J options, Massachusetts, too.  The BE has deleterious effects on law school curricular reform: it is a dead hand on it.  We discussed issues and ways forward in small groups.

Fading fast after last night’s referendum…  Need to check up on Scotland, do some thinking and reflecting on that, before tomorrow.

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