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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Zimmerman: Should Law Professors Have a Continuing Practice Experience (CPE) Requirement?

Emily Zimmerman (Drexel), Should Law Professors Have a Continuing Practice Experience (CPE) Requirement?:

This article considers whether law professors should have a Continuing Practice Experience (CPE) requirement, just as lawyers in most jurisdictions have a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirement. In the face of criticisms of legal education for failing to prepare students to be practicing lawyers and for generating scholarship that is of little to no use to practicing lawyers and judges, CPE offers one way to facilitate a connection between legal education and law practice. This article considers the potential benefits of CPE (and reasons why law professors might be resistant to CPE). The article also discusses ways in which the American Bar Association’s Standards for the Accreditation of Law Schools and the Association of American Law Schools’ Statement of Good Practices by Law Professors could be revised to adopt (or, at least, endorse) CPE. Finally, the article addresses two questions relating to the development of a CPE requirement: specifically, what types of activity should “count” as CPE and how much of such activity should law professors have to engage in?

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Why not simply require law faculty to be members of the bar? That would automatically subject them to CLE requirements. There are many law faculty who are members of the bar. The question is why those who are not members of the bar have given up membership in the profession for which they are preparing students to enter.

Posted by: Jim Maule | Jan 17, 2013 2:01:43 PM

An interesting proposal. While others come to mind, let a few comments suffice for now.

1. "CPE" is an acronym sacred to CPAs. Lawyers (and lawprofs) should not appropriate it.

2. CLE for practicing lawyers, and CPE for practicing CPAs, do not take the "practice" format Zimmerman advocates. That's not to say she's wrong, only that the idea is somewhat novel, and it's hard to say why lawprofs should be singled out for such extracurricular training.

3. Assuming the stated policy objective is worthy (as it may well be), wouldn't it be preferable to impose on lawprofs a requirement to perform pro bono legal services for needy members of society?

4. Why should the footnotes in a lawprof's article outweigh the text? Ugh.

Posted by: Jake | Jan 17, 2013 5:18:21 PM

At least a half-dozen jurisdictions, including D.C. and Maryland, do not require CLE at all, so the CLE requirement by itself wouldn't help. I do agree that law professors who have a JD should not be allowed to go on inactive status.

Posted by: Robert Gould | Jan 18, 2013 7:12:40 AM

Prof. Maule: Not all states have mandatory CLE. And for those that do, not all qualifying CLE is practice-oriented. As for the remainder of your comment, I whole-heartedly agree.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jan 18, 2013 9:20:21 AM

There should definitely be a pro bono requirement for faculty, particuarly if they teach at a law school that has a manatory pro bonon requirement for its students. Lead by example, profs are best situated on many levels to serve the underserved through pro bono work. Walk the walk.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 18, 2013 10:08:33 AM

I think Jake makes the best suggestions. Since the profession of law is so focused on pro-bono work and social justice, wny not make the professors put their money where their mouth is and institute a pro-bono requirement.

I think devoting 50 hours a year to pro bono causes would benefit everyone a lot more than writing another useless article that would only be read by a few dozen of their fellow academics. Surely they could not complain about a 1 hour per week requirement...

Posted by: Todd | Jan 18, 2013 11:08:41 AM

"Surely they could not complain about a 1 hour per week requirement..."

You are forgetting that the academic year is only 32 weeks long, not 50 like it is for the rest of us. So that means having to double up and two hours a week sometimes.

Posted by: john | Jan 19, 2013 2:24:58 PM