February 20, 2014
January 28, 2014
UPDATE: Blog Emperor Caron breaks out the data in a chart. Here's how the school's rank by percentage of first-time test-takers who passed the bar between 1997 and 2011 (the number in parentheses is the rank for the period 2007-2011, which gives a sense of which schools have improved their performance, and which have not):
1. Stanford University (1)
2. University of California, Berkeley (3)
3. University of California, Los Angeles (4)
4. University of Southern California (2)
5. University of California, Hastings (7)
6. University of California, Davis (7)
7. Pepperdine University (5)
8. Loyola Law School, Los Angeles (6)
9. University of San Diego (13)
10. University of San Francisco (9)
January 24, 2014
Here. Good news esp. for Loyola-LA, Chapman and Western State (among others), less so for Irvine, Hastings, McGeorge, and Thomas Jefferson (among others). Here's the breakdown by percentage of first-time takers by school who passed:
January 22, 2014
Fewer students and many more full rides! That's pretty dramatic to be able to offer full rides to nearly a third of the first-year class! Villanova Law clearly has substantial resources and/or university support to be able to do this.
January 13, 2014
According to LSAC, 28,363 LSATs were taken in December 2013, which is down 6.2% from December 2012. October 2013 LSATs administered were down 10.9% from October 2012, and June 2013 LSATs were down 4.9% from the prior year. (LSAC doesn't report how many are repeat test-takers--since it is now easier to get into law school than just a few years ago, one would imagine that creates less incentive to re-take, but what the actual numbers are we do not know.)
Judging from the last few years, there's a reasonable chance that the number of applicants may stabilize in the next year or two, since this year's declines are much smaller than the prior years. So, for example, LSATs taken jumped 15.6% in December 2009 from the prior year, then fell 16.5% in 2010, dropped another 14.9% in 2011, and another 15.6% in 2012, but only dropped 6.2% this year. The pattern is similar with the other test months.
January 09, 2014
January 07, 2014
Following a post a few weeks back about a proposed ABA requirement for 15 required hours of "experiential" learning, I had an interesting e-mail exchange with Stephen Ellmann, who is Professor of Law and Director of the Office of Clinical and Experiential Learning at New York Law School. I encouraged him to write up his thoughts on this issue, so that we might have a kind of public dialogue about these issues. I post my reply to Professor Ellmann below, and I have opened comments for Prof. Ellmann to reply and for other readers to weigh in.
Remarks of Stephen Ellmann:
After Brian posted about the decision, by the Council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, to circulate for comment a Clinical Legal Education Association proposal to require all law students to take 15 credits of experiential courses, he and I exchanged e-mails, and he proposed that we continue this discussion here. I thank him for this opportunity, and look forward to the discussion.
It is certainly possible to debate some of the details of this proposal, but my purpose here is to defend its central proposition: that all law students should receive significant training in the practice of law before they graduate. This is one of those propositions that almost seems not to need defense: who would imagine a professional school that did not give its graduates training in how to practice their future profession?
One might accept this proposition as I’ve stated it, and respond that regular law school classes are an engagement with practice. There is some force to this point. Socratic classrooms are much more engaged, I believe, than lectures. Langdell, as I understand it, aimed to teach students the skill of legal reasoning - and I certainly agree that's a practice skill.
But there are two major problems with the "regular coursework as engagement with practice" argument. First, the traditional study of legal reasoning is an engagement only with a fraction of the skills a lawyer needs. It includes no interviewing, no counseling, no trial skills (except a measure of advocacy training gained by some students from the give-and-take of class discussion), no negotiation - and actually not much training in legal research nor, in many courses, more than a final exam's worth of training in the many challenges of legal writing. Second, the sad truth is that the charm of this method wears off. Two years of Socratic dialogue does not make the third year of it more profoundly rewarding. Instead, it evidently leaves our students often deeply disengaged, as Mitu Gulati, Richard Sander & Robert Sockloskie have shown.
I think that clinical legal educators have demonstrated over the past forty years that the other skills of legal practice are also, like legal reasoning and legal doctrine, susceptible of scholarly study and capable of being taught. Experiential courses, including clinics, externships and simulation classes, aim to do just that and so to add crucial depth to the practice preparation that law schools provide.
One might accept the value of experiential learning too, and respond that law schools actually already do give students the experiential learning they need, by means other than course work. A commenter quoted in Brian’s post went so far as to argue that two summer jobs are “not dissimilar” to medical school clinical rotations. That position I think is untenable. Not only is medical school clinical rotation much more extensive than two summers' worth of clerkship, but in addition medical school rotations are part of school - structured academic instruction - and summer jobs, as valuable as they surely are, aren't school.
One might also accept all this, but respond that the choice of what courses to take should belong to the students themselves. Certainly choice is important. But we teach in law schools, and it’s built in from the start in our schools that most of the courses students take must be law courses – rather than, say, political science or humanities. Even within the domain of law courses, many or most schools restrict student choice significantly – notably by prescribing most or all of the first-year curriculum and sometimes parts of the upper-year curriculum as well. I think the question is not whether we will limit students’ choices, but how much and for what reasons. And on that score, I wonder whether part of the sense that 15 credits of experiential learning is too much might arise from a perception of “skills” as a single subject, rather than as a very wide range of different competencies that get used in different ways in different settings. We routinely allocate 60 credits or more to teaching “doctrine” and the skill of legal reasoning; it does not seem too much to allocate 15 to other skills of practice. Within those 15 credits, I’d certainly hope that law schools will offer their students a substantial range of courses from which to choose.
One last point on the question of “how much?” Bob Kuehn has compiled figures on the “practice-based and clinical education” requirements in a range of other professions: architecture, dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work, and veterinary. Each of these requires at least one quarter of students’ training to be in clinical settings; some require one third and, last but not least, medicine requires one half (and that doesn’t include the years of supervised post-graduate clinical training that follow receiving the M.D.) The CLEA proposal is that approximately one-sixth of law students’ training be in experiential courses. It seems to me that the burden is on those who disagree with this proposal to explain why law students, unlike their peers in other professions, do not need this level of experiential preparation for the work they will soon be doing.
Reply by Brian Leiter:
Stephen states very well the value of experiential learning in law school, and on that point, I have no dispute with him. The only question concerns what should be required. Most law schools already require most of one of the three years of study. Although there is variation in what is and is not required in that first year (Chicago does not require constitutional law, Yale does not require property), it is apparent that almost all law schools require all students to take, in some form or other, the basic private law subjects (contracts, torts, property), substantive criminal law, civil procedure (the rules of court procedure outside the criminal context), and basic legal research and writing at the start of their education. I have my own doubts about that particular mix of requirements, but I have no doubts (and I do not think Stephen does either) that some doctrinal requirements in the first year, along with the crucial legal research and writing, are the crucial foundations. (I can recall entering practice roughly 25 years ago and finding that the knowledge and skills I needed most often came from first-year contracts, civil procedure, and legal research and writing. My impression, in the form of lots of anecdata, is that my experience was not anomalous.) The first-year requirements, whatever their precise mix, help students learn how to read judicial opinions, teach them core rules that govern our private and public interactions, expose them to reasoning by analogy, model and demand some dialectical engagement, and teach them how to research legal issues.
December 17, 2013
The ABA report is here:
The 202 ABA-approved J.D. programs reported that 39,675 full-time and part-time students began their law school studies in the fall of 2013. This is a decrease of 4,806 students (11 percent) from the fall of 2012 and a 24 percent decrease from the historic high 1L enrollment of 52,488 in the fall of 2010.
Approximately two-thirds of ABA-law schools (135) experienced declines in first-year enrollment from last year. At 81 law schools, 1L declines exceeded 10 percent.
At 63 schools, 1L enrollment increased from 2012. At 27 of those schools, enrollment increased 10 percent or more.
At 34 schools, the number of 1L students stayed within five students above or below last year’s figures.