Reforming Irish Legal Education?

UCC Legal Education Symposium.

Change in the structure of legal education is in the air. It is one of the themes of the Second Legal Education Symposium which will be hosted by the Faculty of Law, University College Cork, on Friday 7 December 2007. As with last year’s symposium, this year’s will also be generously sponsored by Dillon Eustace, Solicitors.

This symposium will bring together various parties with an interest in legal education including students, teachers, researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and more – in the hope of enriching the debate and informing future decisions. The theme of the morning session will concern the undergraduate curriculum and will include a key-note address by Professor Joseph W. Singer (Harvard) describing recent (and much discussed and debated) curriculum reforms there. The afternoon session will focus on the implications of Fourth Level Ireland for Law Schools.

Harvard isn’t the only US law school to think about curriculum reform; there is in fact a robust discussion of these issues ongoing at present in many US law schools, including Yale, Stanford and Vanderbilt; and another exciting change has been made by up-and-coming University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in their Law Firm Program. Nor are these the only kinds of curriculum reform being contemplated. The most recent issue of the Vanderbilt Law Review, (volume 60, no. 2, March 2007) contains a Symposium on the Future of Legal Education (blogged here, here and here). The papers include:

• An introduction by Nicholas S. Zeppos (Vanderbilt)

• The Geologic Strata of the Law School Curriculum Robert W. Gordon (Yale)

• A Damn Hard Thing to Do John Henry Schlegel (Buffalo)

• A Lawyer’s Lament: Law Schools and the Profession of Law Wayne S. Hyatt (Hyatt & Stubblefield)

• Can Law Survive Legal Education? Ernest J. Weinrib (Toronto)

• Making Lawyers (and Gangsters) in Japan Mark D. West (Michigan)

• Psychological Theories of Educational Engagement: A Multi-Method Approach to Studying Individual Engagement and Institutional Change Bonita London (Stonybrook)

• Inside the Law School Classroom: Towards a New Legal Realist Pedagogy Elizabeth Mertz (Wisconsin)

• The Law School Matrix: Reforming Legal Education in a Culture of Competition and Conformity Susan Sturm (Columbia)

• Taking Law and _____ Really Seriously: Before, During and After “The Law� Carrie Menkel-Meadow (Georgetown)

• The Case for Another Case Method Todd D. Rakoff (Harvard) & Martha Minow (Harvard)

• What’s Wrong with Langdell’s Method, and What to do About it Edward Rubin (Vanderbilt)

Lots to chew over. Let’s talk about it in Cork, on 7 December.

Update (12 October 2007): this post has been updated by the addition of several links.