Course Topics and Modules

10 Legal Education

Learning Objectives

The readings in this section are meant for the instructor and colleagues. They provide a general foundation and provide context for teaching a course such as this.

Sub-Topic: Curriculum

Ronald W. Staudt & Andrew P. Medeiros, Access to Justice and Technology Clinics: A 4% Solution, 88 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 695 (2013).

Ronald Staudt and Andrew Medeiros argue that the law school curriculum should include a new type of course that simultaneously lowers barriers to justice for low income people while significantly improving the practice readiness of law school graduates. The Justice & Technology Practicum, taught by Staudt at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, teaches students traditional legal skills while also developing soft skills by building A2J Guided Interviews for use by statewide legal aid organizations.

Ronald W. Staudt, Apps 4 Justice: Law Schools, Technology and Access to Justice, a chapter in “Educating the Digital Lawyer,” Oliver Goodenough and Marc Lauritsen, editors, Berkman Center at Harvard University, 2012.

Ronald Staudt notes that the civil justice system is failing the poor, with over 80% of the legal needs of low-income people going unmet. Further, law schools are failing their students by not providing practical lessons for the modern law environment. This paper proposes that law schools can resolve both of these problems by offering an Apps 4 Justice Clinic, which can deliver essential, pragmatic education while simultaneously improving our legal services delivery system for the poor.

Brian Donnelly, What Does “Digital Lawyer Mean?”, a chapter in “Educating the Digital Lawyer,” Oliver Goodenough and Marc Lauritsen, editors, Harvard Law School, Program on the Legal Profession, 2012.

Brian Donnelly, one of the teachers of the Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic at Columbia Law School, highlights important scholarship that addresses the topic of what it means to be a “digital lawyer.” Additionally, Donnelly outlines the major issues that deserve consideration when developing a curriculum to educate lawyers on practicing law in a digital world.

Tanina Rostain et al., Thinking Like a Lawyer, Designing Like an Architect: Preparing Students for the 21st Century Practice, 88 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 743 (2013).

Building systems has become a critical skill among legal practitioners. While courses like the one taught at Georgetown University Law Center also teach legal analysis, empathy, and plain language communications, Tanina Rostain, Roger Skalbeck, and Kevin Mulcahey argue that law students also learn to approach a legal process systematically by developing “legal apps” with programs like Neota Logic and A2J Author®.

Verna Monson and Michelle Tichy, Entering Law Students’ Conceptions of an Ethical Professional Identity and the Role of the Lawyer in Society, The Journal of the Legal Profession, Vol. 35(2), 385 (2011).

Verna Monson and Michelle Tichy draw upon empirical research to encourage small (four to five members) group learning techniques as a means to educate students academically, ethically, and socially. The authors further promote peer review and coaching as methods for enhanced student assessment. Using the authors’ guidelines, law educators can foster self-authorship, reflection, and individual accountability among their students.

William Hornsby, Challenging the Academy to a Dual (Perspective): the Need to Embrace Lawyering for Personal Legal Services, 70 Md. L. Rev. 420 (2011).

William Hornsby examines the changes to the nature and structure of law practice over the last half century. Providers of personal legal services in areas such as domestic relations, personal real estate transactions, and individual debtor’s bankruptcies have been transformed by changes in markets and technologies. This essay explores these transformations, their causes, and their impacts on both practitioners and clients. Finally, it concludes with recommendations for law schools to update curricula accordingly.

Ron Friedmann, The Business Case for Delivering Legal Advice Over the Web, Jnana Technologies Corporation (2001).

Ron Friedmann examines the economics of creating and maintaining online legal services, and expounds upon the business incentives for law firms to implement such services. Moreover, Friedmann discusses the practicalities of providing quality online legal services, their structural benefits for law firms, and their appeal to clients. This article recognizes a growing trend in 2001, so you may ask yourself to what extent has the legal services industry embraced Friedmann’s recommendations? Which recommendations remain valid? Which recommendations have grown weightier over time?

Ronald W. Staudt, White Paper: Leveraging Law Students and Technology to Meet the Legal Needs of Low-Income People, Chicago-Kent College of Law (2007).

Ronald Staudt notes two problems in the modern legal community with a single solution. First, the complexity of the legal system, costliness of lawyers’ services, and educational barriers prevent low-income individuals from effectively accessing our court more often than not. Second, by neglecting to train students in practical, modern workplace technologies, law schools are failing to meet the needs of the 21st century law student. Staudt proposes that law schools can provide more valuable educations to their students while helping low-income individuals gain greater access to courts. By training students in the use of document assembly services, and having students serve as courthouse guides for low-income litigants, law schools can provide the practical education sought by their students while helping to resolve the justice gap for low-income litigants.

Larry Hardesty, Learning software development — by developing software, MITnews (April 24, 2013).

Larry Hardesty discusses MIT’s modern interpretation of the old adage: “learning by doing.” Rather than using a course book and lesson plan for teaching programming, students participate in large, ongoing, open-source software development projects while being mentored by professors and industry professionals. In so doing, students gain more practical knowledge than they could from more traditional courses, and gain more satisfying results by producing tools for the real world.

Conrad Johnson & Brian Donnelly, If Only We Knew What We Know, 88 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 729 (2013).

The Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic has taught law students how to use law practice and technology tools in a professional setting for the better part of a decade. Conrad Johnson and Brian Donnelly, who teach the course at Columbia Law School with Mary Zulack, explain their clinical education process as knowledge management where their students learn how to use expert systems to make tacit knowledge of expert explicit for users.

Sub-Topic: The Future of Legal Education

William M. Sullivan et al., Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (2007).

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching spent two years taking a comprehensive look at the methods for teaching and learning the law in U.S. and Canadian law schools. The Carnegie Report presents a rich image of how law schools transform students into professionals and rethinks the goal of “thinking like a lawyer.”

Elizabeth Chambliss, Two Questions for Law Schools about the Future Boundaries of the Legal Profession, 36 J. of the L. Prof. 329 (2012).

Law schools face two critical strategic problems. This essay suggests that critical theory and research can resolve both of these problems. The first problem is the increasing segmentation of the profession, both between corporate and personal legal services, and also between commodity and “bespoke” or “high-margin” work in both sectors. The second problem is widespread pressure for deregulation of practice, such that non-lawyers can provide various adequate legal services, undercutting the typical cost of lawyers. This essay elaborates upon these issues and proposes that law schools can resolve them by embracing the modern legal environment, providing a wider range of specialization programs, and prioritizing access to justice.


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