Experiential learning is not the answer to the problems facing legal education. Simulations, externships, and clinics are vital aspects of a real-world legal education, but they cannot alone produce competent graduates. The better approach is to create a required, six-semester experiential legal writing curriculum where students draft and re-draft the most common litigation documents and engage in simulations, including client interviews, mediation, depositions, settlement negotiations, and oral arguments in the order that they would in actual practice. In so doing, law schools can provide the time and context within which students can truly learn to think like lawyers, do what lawyers do, and exercise real-world judgment. Simply put, merging experiential learning into the legal writing curriculum is the path to producing competent graduates and a legal education that maintains relevance in a changing world.
In this article, we set forth a proposal to the American Bar Association advocating for a three-year experiential legal writing curriculum that requires students to take one legal writing course during each semester of law school and directs law schools to devote between eight and fifteen credits to experiential legal writing instruction. We also include a comprehensive, six-semester curriculum that incorporates doctrinal, skills, and clinical courses.
The Clinical Legal Association recently lobbied the ABA for a mandatory fifteen-credit experiential learning requirement. The ABA approved only six. It is time for the Legal Writing Institute to make its own proposal and to give law students the education that members of the bench and bar demand.
- legal research and writing,
- experiential learning,
- legal education,
- american bar association
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/adam_lamparello/22/