The Washington and Lee School of Law is poised to turn the world of legal education on its head. The deans are announcing a plan to overhaul its 3L curriculum by replacing all academic classes — that’s right, all academic classes — with “experiential” learning, reports the NLJ. This might include “actual interactions with clients,” and teaching students to “keep track of their billing hours,” says the article.
Robert Danforth, the school’s associate dean of academic affairs, said the reforms could serve as a model for other schools. “It’s the best and most interesting thing to happen to legal education in many years,” he said. “To me, the most important element of the proposal is that it creates a year of transition where the student is moving from simply being a student to being a practicing professional.”
Recent reports have pointed out the challenges law schools face in preparing students to become lawyers, including a 2007 report by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Also, last year a network of 10 law schools launched a project that aims to improve how law schools operate.
What a great idea! Teach a bunch of third-years at an allegedly tier-one school how to file state court papers for indigent defendants in rural Virginia! How much more practical can it get!