Overcoming Barriers in Preparing Law Students for Real-World Practice
Missouri Law Review Symposium
October 19, 2012
There is a growing consensus that American law schools need to do a better job of preparing students to practice law. Teaching students to “think like a lawyer” is still important but it is not enough for students to be able to act like a lawyer soon after they graduate.
Training lawyers is especially difficult because lawyers work on many types of problems, both when handling disputes and negotiating transactions. Some legal disputes are resolved at trial or on appeal, but most are resolved through other processes in the “shadow of the law.” Although legal education has evolved in recent decades, the legacy of the Langdellian system makes it hard to combine instruction in legal doctrine, practical skills, and clinical experience.
Recognizing the general problems of legal education is fairly easy. Solving them can be quite hard. Law schools serve many constituencies that have demanding and diverse interests. Needed time and money are scarce and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
This symposium brings together scholars, practitioners, and judges to analyze the needs of stakeholders of legal education and how law schools can most effectively satisfy those needs.