Brian Leiter's Law School Reports

Brian Leiter
University of Chicago Law School

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

More mischief afoot at the ABA!

A previously moribund proposal to require 15 hours of clinical work has now come back to life, thanks to advocacy by (guess who?) clinical faculty.  Students who want to do 15 or 30 hours of clinical work should be able to do it; but why in God's name would one require it of everyone, without any regard for that student's ambitions or plans?  It makes no sense. 

UPDATE:  A colleague elsewhere writes:

    I look forward to your posts because they are so good.  I am mystified, however, that you did not see     why clinical faculty want a required 15 hours.  You must be more cynical.  There are at least     3 reasons, listed in descending order of relevance. 

  1.  Many faculties are retrenching in one form or another.  By requiring clinical work, jobs will be preserved.
  2. Similarly, hiring opportunities will be limited; the proposal would help maintain clinical voting weight on the faculty.
  3. Finally, and altruistically, clinicians want to do more good in the world, and students will help them do so. 

    No doubt, many students will be helped by a heavy dose of clinical ed; but, as you said, let the kids     choose.

AND MORE REACTIONS:   A colleague in Washington, DC writes:  "The ABA proposal for 15 required clinical hours is just crazy--there is no way to staff such an offering with a serious clinic.  By my estimate, our clinics cost about 17x as much per student-hour as the average classroom course (that's just salary + benefits for faculty, fellows, and admin assistant plus a bit of overhead divided by the number of students).  It's not clear whether there are consistent pedagogical benefits from clinics, and there's no evidence that it helps with employment.  Whatever the benefits of clinical education, it is utterly inefficient if done right.  There's nothing like a perceived crisis for everyone to push their pet pedagogical agenda as a solution."

And a colleague in New York:  "1) 'live client"'clinics are the most costly form of legal education that we provide -- cutting against concerns re student costs; 2) most of clinical education is about litigation, which is not the skills set relevant to most legal practice; and 3) contra to the claims that law students receive no practical training outside  of clinics, unlike the educational path in say, medical school -- in fact most students work at legal jobs in both the 1st year and 2d year summers, which strikes me as not dissimilar to clinical rotations that occur in medical schools, which have longer academic years in consequence."

ADDDENDUM:  Another reader points out that the proposal would also allow simulations and externships to count towards the 15 hours, which might address the cost issue, but still has no justification as a requirement for all students.  This is, indeed, a case of people seizing a "crisis" to "push their pet pedagogical agenda."

 

 

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