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  • Topic: Law, Lawyer, Law school
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  • Published : February 6, 2011
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PROCESS REENGINEERING AND LEGAL EDUCATION: AN ESSAY ON DARING TO THINK DIFFERENTLY KAREN GROSS* I. INTRODUCTION Thinking about the nature and quality of legal education is not new.1 Since the MacCrate Report2 and the stinging criticisms of Judge Harry Edwards,3 legal educators have been overtly wrestling with how effectively to train individuals to become lawyers. The * Professor of Law, New York Law School. J.D. Temple University, 1977; B.A. Smith College, 1974. This article is an adaptation of a presentation made at the NYLS Faculty Presentation Day, Spring 2004. Special thanks are owed to my excellent research assistants, Erika Lazar and Risha Mehta, without whom this paper would not have been completed — and in a timely fashion. I also want to thank Charles Abelmann and Kris Franklin for their many thoughtful suggestions. Finally, I want to thank Pamela Godwin for both her insights and her inspiration to think differently. The errors, of course, are all mine. 1. See WILLIAM LAPIANA, LOGIC & EXPERIENCE: THE ORIGIN OF MODERN AMERICAN LEGAL EDUCATION (1994) (discussing the history — and twists and turns — of legal education in America); Richard A. Matasar, Legal Education: Skills and Values Education: Debate About the Continuum Continues, 46 N.Y.L. SCH. L. REV. 395 (2002); Rita I. Steinzor & Alan D. Hornstein, The Unplanned Obsolescence of American Legal Education, 75 TEMP. L. REV. 447 (2002); Gerald F. Hess, Seven Principles for Good Practice in Legal Education, 49 J. LEGAL EDUC. 367 (1999); Gerald F. Hess, Listening to Our Students: Obstructing and Enhancing Learning in Law School, 31 U.S.F. L. REV. 941 (1997); Ruta K. Stropus, Mend It, Bend It, and Extend It: The Fate of Traditional Law School Methodology in the 21st Century, 27 LOY. U. CHI. L.J. 449 (1996); Karl N. Llewellyn, The Current Crisis in Legal Education, 1 J. LEGAL EDUC. 211, 215 (1948). 2. ROBERT MACCRATE, LEGAL EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT — AN EDUCATIONAL CONTINUUM: REPORT OF THE TASK FORCE ON LAW SCHOOLS AND THE PROFESSION: NARROWING THE GAP 234–35 (1992) [hereinafter the MacCrate Report] (The report suggests that integrating simulations and live client contacts in law school, “enables students to relate their later practice experience to concepts they have learned in school, just as students are able to place the substantive knowledge that they acquire after law school in the framework of the concepts they have learned in their substantive courses.”). 3. Harry T. Edwards, The Growing Disjunction Between Legal Education and the Legal Profession, 91 MICH. L. REV. 34, 34 (1992) (“The law schools should be training ethical practitioners and producing scholarship that judges, legislators, and practitioners can use . . . but many law schools — especially the so-called “elite” ones — have abandoned their proper place, by emphasizing abstract theory at the expense of practical scholarship and pedagogy.”). 435

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NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL LAW REVIEW

[Vol. 49

MacCrate Report urged law schools to integrate theory and practice within the academy to insure that legal education provided something more than a vague correlation to legal practice.4 Seemingly in the wake of the MacCrate Report, law schools began to provide students with greater skill sets, even within the mainstream substantive courses.5 Simulations, drafting and research courses, and experiences with negotiating and counseling clients — all designed to both introduce skills and promote professional values — have gained in prominence.6 But — and here is that proverbial but — we have tended to think about legal education within the existing paradigm. Stated differently, we have been largely satisfied with tweaking at the mar4. See MacCrate Report, supra note 2, at 236 (“Too often, the Socratic method of teaching...
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