Frank K. Walwer, dean and professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law, has been elected chairman of the American Bar Associaton Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.
The ABA section is responsible for making recommendations to the association's House of Delegates on whether to grant or deny accreditation to law schools. It also monitors accredited law schools to ensure that they continue to meet the association's standards.
In his remarks to the section, Walwer said the public interest required an expansion of efforts by the association to "bridge the gap" between legal, academic and professional communities.
Defining his remarks in a telephone interview, Walwer noted during the last century, the training of a lawyer began through apprenticeship.
"The aspiring lawyer worked for a lawyer," he said. "Then we went to a system of law schools and legal training being under the universities with a heavy emphasis on analysis of court decisions andvery little having to do with other types of skills and training.
"Now we are in kind of a third stage in which laws schools are developing clinics to actually deal with legal problems on one hand, and in Oklahoma, we have a legal internship program where law students work for attorneys."
The importance of having much more substantial interaction between the bench and bar and academic community is realized in the new phase of legal education, Walwer said.
Placing the emphasis on interaction is in one way done by involving lawyers as adjunct professors in the law schools.
The mode of legal education has changed by opening more avenues to involve attorneys directly and also instructing students in the role of the counselor as well as the litigator.
"Lawyers have to deal with two sides," he said. "In one they represent clients as the plaintiff or defendant, but importantly, they also represent clients who are trying to enter into contractual arrangements or settlement negotiations. They have a role as a counselor in addition to litigator."
Another kind of gap that needs to be bridged, Walwer said, is between law and interdiscipline.
"All segments of society simply have to have some exposure in law schools to enable people to deal with law and medicine problems (for example.) There should be more teaching from other professions- interdiscliplinary education," he said.
Walwer noted that TU has a joint degree in law and biological science, law and business, and for those with a masters in education who want to go into school administration.
This is the second year in which first year law students enter school one week early to learn the techniques of legal research and devote themselves to becoming familiar with the law library.
The number of credit requirements for legal writing has been increased and emphasized to a greater degree.
Within the last year, the law school has established an arrangement with the ABA to edit its monograph on natural resources. TU law students also edit the Federal Energy Bar Association's journal.
"So on the national scene, Tulsa is editing two very important publications in the energy/natural resources area. It's nice to have a focus in the state of Oklahoma," Walwer said. …