Academic journal article The Review of Litigation

Training the Litigator in the Twenty-First Century: A Comprehensive Curricular Approach

Academic journal article The Review of Litigation

Training the Litigator in the Twenty-First Century: A Comprehensive Curricular Approach

Article excerpt

I. Orientation : Introduction to the Process.....................841

II. The First-Year Curriculum: Foundational Curriculum..........................................................................842

III. The Second-Year Curriculum: Experiential Learning...............................................................................846

IV. The Thirdand Fourth-Year Curriculum: The Exposure Curriculum.........................................................849

V. Coordinated-Comprehensive Approach of the La Verne Law Model................................................................851

VI. Costs and Benefits..............................................................853

VII. Conclusion...........................................................................854

Since slightly before the twenty-first century, the legal profession and society as a whole have been asking pointed questions about the relevance and nature of legal education.* 1 The McCrate Report2 prompted an inquiry into the relevance of legal education to the practice of law by questioning whether law school graduates were being prepared for the profession.3 That discussion continued through the Carnegie Report in 2007,* * 4 employment challenges commencing in 2008,5 and the critical analysis of Brian Tamanaha in "Failing Law Schools."6 The discussion also expanded to include the cost of law school, with specific concern for student debt levels.7

Any discussion of training modem litigators must address the fundamental concepts involved in training all lawyers: curriculum, approach, and cost. This Article seeks to further the discussion and suggests curricular and operational changes that will enhance legal education in general and the preparation of litigators in particular. One concept fundamental to the approach promoted by this Article is a recognition that an important aspect of the legal education setting is requiring vocational and technical field training8 as well as doctrinal and theoretical mastery of subjects. Saying that legal education is in part a "voc-tech" process often causes members of the legal academy to blanch, but in truth what we do as lawyers, particularly as litigators, is vocational and technical. It is vocational because lawyers engage in an occupation for which they are trained. It is technical because there are particular skills that a lawyer must master in order to be successful. The training of lawyers is also academic, i.e., doctrinal and theoretical; lawyers require higher orders of thinking and reasoning to develop, analyze, and communicate concepts for the benefit of our clients, society as a whole, and the integrity of the profession. Prior to the twentieth century, legal training was almost exclusively a vocational and technical process conducted through apprenticeships and clerkships.9 During the twentieth century, it became almost exclusively academic, conducted through classroom experiences utilizing the Socratic method.10 Today, the profession calls for-and law schools have sought to find-a balance of voc-tech and academic training.11 However, because academia is reluctant to accept the voc-tech aspects of legal education, this balance has not been achieved. At most schools, voc-tech training is a small portion of the law school experience-limited to the third year12 or simply a repackaged version of the school's clinical offerings.13 Unfortunately, this approach can turn the voc-tech portion of training lawyers into something similar to a high school shop class experience; the classes are viewed as unimportant or as a place for those unfit for more rigorous, academic work to improve their grade-point averages.14

In recognizing the importance of vocational and technical training in the professional education, the Carnegie Foundation study described three forms of apprenticeship: (1) thinking or the intellectual or cognitive apprenticeship, (2) performing or the expert practices shared by competent members of the profession, and (3) self-awareness or the apprenticeship of identity or purpose. …

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