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October 17, 2012

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Orin Kerr

"One of my third-year students asked me the other day why students (in her experience) spend two full weeks in the first year going through Pennoyer v. Neff."

If I knew of a teacher who did that, I would have the same question.

Craig M. Boise

"If law schools could build their programs from scratch, without the ABA-imposed condition that training must consist of three years' worth of material, what would and should they look like?"


More law schools need to ask the hard questions like this, and, more importantly commit to finding answers. Very thoughtful post.

Douglas Levene

I've been teaching law for 2+ years now after many years of practice, and IMHO the traditional 1L program is the essence of law school. Where else do students learn how to induce legal principles and to test them against multiple slightly different fact patterns? Note that this skill is at least as useful for transactional lawyers as for litigators, and is one of the reasons that the American style of legal practice has become dominant in transnational practice. How else do students learn to make all the different kinds of arguments that lawyers can make in support of a position? Just lecturing on the law, even if you lecture on all those possible hypotheticals and possible arguments, is not an adequate alternative. As for the third year, I can see excellent reasons for making it optional.

James Moliterno

The changes at Washington & Lee go far beyond more clinics and externships. The full-time credit load of the third year is structured so that the student acts in the role of lawyer. Clinics and externships are a part of that. But their work is also done in elaborate simulation courses, many taught by leading practitioners. In these simulation courses, the student is placed in the role of a lawyer in a particular practice setting and is assigned to perform the core functions and work of such a lawyer. The courses range the spectrum from "The Lawyer for Failing Businesses" to "Poverty Law Litigation" to "Corporate Counsel" to "Family Law Practicum." Approximately thirty of these new courses are available to students. In addition, the curriculum includes two, two-week skills immersions, intense simulations meant to ground the students in the fundamentals of both litigation practice and transactional practice. Students litigate a simple case in the litigation immersion and they represent either buyer or seller of a medium-sized business in the transactional immersion. Finally, the students have a course on the culture, economic systems and current controversieis of the legal profession and they also have a service requirement.

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