Facilitating Better Law Teaching—Now
This Essay is about solutions - real solutions that law schools can deploy right now to improve the education we provide. And it is about how to overcome obstacles to implementing those solutions right now. This is how change happens.
We have all heard a great deal about the problems facing legal education (and the legal profession more generally). Pundits have gone on for years about how law graduates are ill prepared for practice. More recently, there has been a seemingly endless barrage of commentary about the difficulty recent law graduates face in finding jobs. Often these commentators suggest extreme remedies (such as closing down all United States law schools or completely deregulating law practice so that anyone can offer legal services). Others suggest less extreme, but unrealistic remedies (such as forcing law faculties to change how they teach, stopping them from writing so that they can teach more, or doing away with faculty governance so that they have no say over these matters). My goal here is not to debate the many criticisms that have been leveled at legal education. While these criticisms may be overstated at times, I will start from the premise - which I believe is hard to debate - that most law schools could do a better job than they currently do to prepare their graduates to practice law and to get jobs.
I will start by discussing a potential solution to these problems that is non-extreme, well researched, and relatively well accepted within the legal academy: the recommendations contained in the 2007 Carnegie Foundation report on legal education, titled Educating Lawyers (Carnegie Report). I will then explore why the Carnegie Report recommendations are still far from fully implemented in most U.S. law schools. Finally, I will recommend a set of realistic strategies for law schools to more fully implement the Carnegie Report’s recommendations, and introduce a nationwide initiative called Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers that is designed to facilitate this process.