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Authors

Jeffrey Thaler

Abstract

In 1992, the American Bar Association ("ABA") published a lengthy report, which became known as the MacCrate report (the "Report"), examining the connection between the profession and legal education.2 In part, the Report recognized the value of a more practice-oriented curriculum that would include a combination of externships, clinics and classroom-based activities. One result of the Report was a significant increase in the number of clinical and externship programs offered by law schools, as well as many more law review articles on such programs. However, the concept of combining experimental educating techniques with traditional doctrinal case method courses utilizing simulations (known as practicum or simulation courses) remained underdeveloped. Fifteen years later, two major reports were issued that put increased pressure on law school deans and faculty to change the dominant and age-old approaches to educating law students. The reports, Best Practices in Legal Education3 and Educating Lawyers,4 generally found that law schools might be teaching students how to "think like a lawyer," but were not sufficiently teaching the needed skills and values for students to be lawyers, using knowledge in the complexity of actual law practice.5 One key recommendation was that law schools should develop more opportunities for students' "skills development, focused on learning how and when to intervene in contextual situations, and taught in simulation courses or clinics." 6 In other words, just adding clinical courses to a curriculum full of doctrinal lecture courses is not enough to provide the "diversity of skills and experience needed for competent legal practice."7

First Page

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