Friday, December 6, 2013
Stephen Johnson (Mercer), Teaching for Tomorrow: Utilizing Technology to Implement the Reforms of MacCrate, Carnegie, and Best Practices, 92 Neb. L. Rev. 46 (2013):
Due to the nature of the students who are currently enrolled in or planning to attend law school, the economic realities of the modern practice of law, and the legal job market, technology needs to play a central role in the reform of legal education. The reformed law school classroom will likely look significantly different than the traditional 1L Langdellian classroom. Simulations and other instructional methods that focus on developing skills will become more prevalent and technology will significantly enhance them. Technology itself is an important skill that lawyers must master to effectively practice law. Therefore, there will likely be additional focus in law schools on training students in the technology that is central to practice. Educators will likely incorporate more formative assessment into courses, and technology will facilitate that. Furthermore, professors will need new course books and materials to facilitate the new instructional models, and technology will be key to the development of successful and effective materials to replace the traditional materials.
Part II of this article examines the development of the Langdellian method of instruction and the criticisms to the approach that have culminated in the calls for reform by the ABA, Carnegie Foundation, and Clinical Legal Education Association. Part II continues by focusing on the reasons why technology should play a central role in implementing the reforms petitioned by those organizations. The rest of the article provides examples of how technology can facilitate some of those reforms. Part III focuses on reforming assessment, the instructional models, and the instructional materials used in the classroom. Finally, Part IV explores the value of technological capabilities as skills in practice and the manner in which law schools might train students in those skills.