When Will Law School Change?

Steven C. Bennett, “When Will Law School Change?” 89 Neb. L. Rev. 87, 2010.

Steven Bennett, author of The Path To Partnership: A Guide For Junior Associates (2004), explores how law schools can produce “good lawyers.” Bennett’s concerns mirror those reflected in the recent Carnegie Report, an independent external review of law school teaching practices which expressed concerns that law schools are producing lawyers who are lacking in basic skills and a lack of commitment to professional responsibility. Bennett’s main question is “when will law schools incorporate, more fully, the kinds of changes that can ensure that new lawyers approach their careers equipped with a spirit of professionalism, competence and integrity, and with a genuine drive to demonstrate ethical behavior in all of their actions as attorneys?”

Bennett concedes that no easy solutions exist to address the problem, yet this does not preclude the ability of every law school to take steps toward the goal of producing better equipped graduates. Additionally, Bennett identifies an essential element leading to change is the demand, by the profession itself, “for increased focus on ethics and professionalism.”

Among the steps law schools might take include  connecting courses with more “real world settings,” moving away from reliance on traditional “case-method” teaching and incorporating simulations, group projects, and inviting adjunct faculty in to bring real world experience into the classroom. Adding law school curriculum that develops professional habits, ethical sensitivity, and the emotional hazards of the practice of law would all serve to permit graduates to “make the transition into practice with relative ease.”

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