Recently I had the privilege to assist the tenure review committee of a well-known clinical law professor of great repute. I was asked to write a letter of reference, and I was more than happy to do it.
Why was I bothered by this? Maybe it was the disbelief that an unquestionably amazing teacher, leader, scholar, visionary, and nationally renowned professor of clinical practice who has been the vanguard for clinical legal education was being just now being considered for tenure. She has been around for decades, doing her amazing shtick. But here she was — asking friends and colleagues for a bit of help to persuade the law faculty that she was “good enough” to keep.
Perhaps I am too harsh. After all, the clinical areas of legal education have long been the neglected step children of our major law schools. This is a giant leap forward in law faculty thinking. But it just seems long overdue — especially as the MacCrate Report came out in 1992.
Recently I found this consortium run out of the University of Denver called Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers (“ETL”). It is dedicated to advancing legal education that trains new lawyers to be competent professionals by offering a structured and highly collaborative approach to learning how to practice law. ETL leverages the Carnegie Model and the work of law schools and professors committed to legal education reform to align legal education with the needs of an evolving profession that is swamped by new grads who just do not have the skills to take a case and run with it.
To become a consortium member, a law school must:
Be an ABA-accredited institution.
Demonstrate significant institutional commitment to legal education reform along the lines proposed in the 2007 Carnegie Report, Educating Lawyers. Such commitment may take the form of a strategic plan, curriculum committee plan, or other administrative or faculty directive.
Offer multiple courses that implement the Carnegie approach to legal education and focus on student-centered teaching…and more than a trial advocacy course and a few clinics.
Have responded to our 2011 survey of U.S. and Canadian law schools on the developments in legal education. And,
Provide a short written description (150 – 250 words, to be posted on the website) explaining the school’s commitment to legal education reform and current Carnegie-style curricular offerings.
To date, not one San Diego area law school has taken on this mantle. In California, only Golden Gate University, Southwestern (L.A.), Stanford, and USC have made this a cause worth promoting and living up to.
Having a local law school join this group is food for thought.
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