Monday, October 8, 2007
Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question: What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine:
Several of the other commenters have suggested dramatic changes to the curriculum. I would recommend that as part of your curricular reforms, you consider an open-access approach to legal education.
First, implement an open-source approach to course materials. As I describe in a forthcoming article, casebooks and other supplementary materials will soon all be in electronic form and online. An open-source approach would allow professors to collaborate freely while having much greater potential for individualization. Particularly if you implement a new regime of courses, an open-source approach would allow your faculty to join with colleagues around the country in developing new materials. Your impact on curricular reform will be far greater if you provide easy access for other schools and professors looking to follow your lead.
Second, implement an open-access approach to classroom teaching. The biggest pedagogical problem with legal education is the dearth of individualized feedback. An open-access approach would provide more feedback through a variety of in-class and online platforms. For example, Paul Caron and Rafael Gely have described the Classroom Performance System as a method of giving students more feedback on their class participation. In addition, an open-access approach would provide for more feedback from students to their professors. We live in a new era of instant Internet news and gossip, and professors are judged publicly as never before. An open-access approach would channel student feedback in a constructive and open manner, giving students a voice and raising teaching quality. Ultimately, an open-access law school would engage both the students and the broader world in improving legal education.
For all the posts in the series, see here.