Penn State Introducing New Curriculum Fall Of 2015
Plummeting applications are forcing law schools to express their creativity. New curriculum is being created, Arizona introduced a bachelors of arts in law degree this semester, and schools are even dropping tuition.
In the most recent grasp at straws, Penn State (which has not one, but two law schools!) is hard at work creating the new curriculum of an experiential program at its Dickinson School of Law campus. Penn State began legal training when it acquired the Dickinson campus in 2000. In 2006, it began classes at the main campus as well as the Dickinson campus. Two years ago it announced the decision to completely split the two—making the two separate and diversified in an attempt to mitigate dropping applications.
According to a National Law Journal article, examples of two new courses will be Problem Solving 1: The Lawyer and Client and Practicing Law in a Global World: Context and Competencies. The former is intended to teach students to learn about the people behind the cases and will include intake interviews with clients from a homeless shelter. The latter is an introduction to international law.
The shift in curriculum seams to stem from two main issues. First, law is a practice. There is a psychology and art to it. People are involved. It is a skill as much as a theory. Those aspects are tough to learn in a classroom. The second is two-fold. Schools outside of the T14 have to establish their attractiveness. As the ol’ marketing scheme says, find a unique selling point. The other piece is students outside of T14 schools have to differentiate themselves in the job market. Both can be at least somewhat helped with legal training requiring at least 12 experiential credit hours.
This is not the second coming of legal education, but it is a start. And at this point, what do law schools and students have to lose? Dropping tuition? Job prospects?