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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Two-Tiered System of Legal Education?

Bar Passage and Best Practices for Legal Education, by Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (New Mexico):

[T]he confluence of bar passage imperatives and the Best Practices/Carnegie movement might result in a kind of “two-tier” legal education where students with higher LSAT’s and grades will get the Best Practices/Carnegie type education and students with lower LSATs and grades will get a legal analysis focused legal education … [I]ronically legal analysis is the skill that Best Practices and Carnegie Report conclude that legal education over emphasizes … WOW! Is this backward!

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This development is even more ironic if one believes, as I do, that the traditional methods of legal education (e.g., the use of the Socratic method to teach legal analysis) are a more effective initiation to our legal tradition. I have a forthcoming paper on the subject, entitled: How Do You Trim the Seamless Web? Considering the Unintended Consequences of Pedagogical Alterations

I've embedded a hyperlink in the title to the article's SSRN page in case anyone would like to take a look. Admittedly, I'm in the minority on this question, but I think it bears mentioning that there are some holdouts against the Best Practices/Carnegie movement.

Posted by: Ryan Alford | Oct 28, 2008 8:13:14 AM

My attempt to embed that hyperlink failed: I mistakenly added a forward slash at the end of the URL. I'll just add it here so people can cut and past into their browser's address bar:


Posted by: Ryan Alford | Oct 28, 2008 10:27:45 AM

Your points about the Socratic method's contribution to analytical thinking and as a "means of preserving our traditional orientation towards the law and legal knowledge" are important. The question I raise in my post on the Best Practices blog is whether "more of the same" is the best approach to address improvement of student performance once certain students have demonstrated that it is not effective for them. Shouldn't we start thinking about other effective approaches to law teaching that might engage the student who did not engage with the Socratic method?

Posted by: Antoinette Sedillo Lopez | Nov 3, 2008 9:41:25 AM