They're talking about the value of practice skills to the law school curriculum over at the Conglomerate. Here's my take on it:
Though I'm a doctrinal prof fond of critical theory, I side with those who think that US law schools must do more to develop and reward those who teach effective writing, process and skills programs. Let's face it, most of our students won't become Law Profs, or legal philosophers, or theorists of any kind. They'll become lawyers, and they want to be good ones.
So besides substantive knowledge, what can a doctrinal prof bring to the table?
Plenty. My colleague Rocky Rhodes and I just completed a final manuscript for the First Amendment volume of the new Skills & Values series by Lexis (shameless plug acknowledged). The book includes 14 problems and associated tasks that make students think like actual lawyers. They're asked to draft pleadings, interrogatories, requests for production, and other litigation documents. They also navigate tactical dilemmas. As a prosecutor, when should they bring charges in the course of an on-going factual investigation? As a defense attorney, is it best to address the charges on the merits or move to dismiss? Other problems place students in the role of a judicial law clerk, a lawyer in private practice, or an advocate who submits written testimony to a legislative committee.
We strived to make each problem as realistic as possible given the format. Lawyers aren't handed a narrative hypothetical in practice, so we don't give them to students. We give just enough background information to make the problems workable, but otherwise rely on client correspondence, charging documents, subpoenas, and the like - the kinds of things attorneys in the real world build a case out of.
I've experimented with some of these problems in class last semester, and the result was overwhelmingly positive. Most notable was the collective glaze that swept over the class on the weeks we went back to the socratic method. It was painful all around.
I'm hoping projects like these will lead to more integration between doctrine and skills without discounting the need to support existing practice-oriented courses.