Law is the latest discipline to resist accountability in the form of clearly articulating intended learning outcomes, and then measuring to see if students, in fact, learned what was intended. This Chronicle of Higher Education article details the controversy stirred by the American Bar Association’s plans to shift from looking at inputs to assessing outcomes.
The article reports that several law deans reported that they are too busy with budget cuts, tough job markets and soaring costs to be bothered with whether students learn. OK, they did not exactly say that last part, but that is still the message. What they did say is that they would likely have to “hire additional staff members to collect data and develop testing metrics, and some curriculum changes could be expensive.”
Excuse me? What is it that you do in your law schools?
Some of the deans say that you cannot measure what will make a good lawyer through traditional assessment techniques. Now, that is a novel argument. Well, not really. We hear that same lament from every profession. We are special. We cannot become, per a quote in the article, uniform and rigid.
And this is in the face of a job market where employers complain that they are hiring law school graduates who cannot do the job without extensive training after being hired. Phillip get viagra without prescription A. Bradley is quoted as saying “many law firms are developing core competencies they expect of their lawyers, but many law schools aren’t delivering graduates who come close to meeting them.” “Some law schools are of the view that delivering law graduates who have been ‘trained to think like a lawyer’ is sufficient.”
Seems like these law school deans need to wake up.
The idea of producing law graduates trained to think like lawyers reminds me of my experience attending orientation to law school some decades ago. To get from the main campus to the law school meant walking through the campus of the art school, and we were told that “by god, when someone meets you on the path, you had damned well better look like a lawyer, and not some artist.” Sort of reminds me of the way tobacco used to be sold—you, too, can be a Marlboro man. It’s all in the attitude and the brand of cigarette you smoke – or the reputation of your law school.
I guess things haven’t changed all that much over the years. Apparently the law schools can still train ‘em to look and think like lawyers, and that should be good enough. They don’t need any of this radical assessment of learning stuff.
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