Five Ways Law School Is Changing
Nowadays it seems like nearly everything in legal education is changing. Applications are dropping. As is enrollment. The Arizona College of Law is now allowing both the LSAT and GRE for admissions into its program. Disgruntled and unemployed law school graduates are suing their alma maters. And now the traditional and grandfathered way of studying law–the casebook method–is changing.
The casebook method has traditionally been a popular way of educating lawyers in the United States. The Socratic-based method offers examples of legal application and puts the onus on the students to figure out which law is being used. The idea is to train the students to “think like a lawyer.”
Since 2014, global publishing company Wolters Kluwer has been building a product called Connected Casebook. Specifically, Wolters Kluwer has taken the traditional casebook method and transferred it to a digital format. But it’s more than simply an e-reader. It allows students to read, highlight, do special searches, outline and take notes. It also enables faculty to view how their students are unpacking cases.
“Every great law firm has a great library,” Vikram Savkar, vice president and general manager of Legal Education at Wolters Kluwer, told Forbes. “Lawyers had to work with librarians..it was an important part of legal process. Now, much of that information can be found simply by Googling it. Law librarians have completely changed. All parts of a law firm are affected by digital change. Things that used to be difficult are now easy, and firms have to figure out new ways to create a competitive advantage.”
Savkar told Forbes when the platform launched in 2014, less than 1,000 individuals were using the resource. Since then, the site has “caught fire.” Along with the change in study of law, Savkar and his team revealed five changes in legal education, as originally published by Forbes. Those changes are:
- A shift toward a more engaging, constructivist, “show the ball” style of teaching (as opposed to the traditional “hide the ball” method).
- A shift toward experiential education including more Med school-like clinical, externship, or pro bono experience
- A shift toward teaching more real-world law skills over critical or academic-only skills
- An opening relationship between law schools and law firms including greater discussion and shared dialogue
- An overall shift away from old printed matter and toward digital tools that provide feedback to instructors for improved teaching.