06 August 2012 at 10:59 BST

Skills boost for US law school curricula

The curriculum in US law schools has changed dramatically since 2004, with skills instruction taking a much higher precedence, according to a recent survey.

'Not your father's Chevrolet'

The American Bar Association researchers found that skills instruction -- including clinical, simulation and ‘externships’ – has greatly increased since a 2004 change in law school accreditation which requires students to receive ‘substantial instruction’ in areas regarded as necessary for responsible participation in the legal profession.

Other changes included increased pro bono requirements, extra focus on legal research and writing, and options for distance education.
Southwestern Law School professor Catherine Carpenter -- who chairs the curriculum committee of the ABA’s Section of legal education and admissions to the Bar – attempted to translate the survey’s overarching theme into language that all Americans can understand. Lawyers should not sentimentalise law school curricula trends, she said, pointing out that they ‘are not your father's Chevrolet’ before saying they are ‘not yours, either, if you went to law school in 2000’.


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