Washington and Lee University School of Law Announces Dramatic Reform in Legal Education

Mar 11, 2008, 01:00 ET from Washington and Lee University

    LEXINGTON, Va., March 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It's been more than
 100 years since law schools in the United States have overhauled how they
 teach students. The Washington and Lee University School of Law looks to
 change that with today's announcement of a bold plan to reform the third
 year of law school.
 
 
 
     "For some time, members of the legal profession, practitioners, judges
 and scholars alike, have urged law schools to place greater emphasis on
 professionalism and learning in context," said Dean Rodney A. Smolla.
 "W&L's new third year responds to these needs by requiring students to
 exercise professional judgment, work in teams, solve problems, counsel
 clients, negotiate solutions, serve as advocates and counselors -- the full
 complement of professional activity that engages practicing lawyers."
 
 
 
     The new third-year curriculum, approved unanimously by the Law School
 faculty, will be entirely experiential in nature. Traditional classroom
 instruction will be replaced by practice simulations, real-client
 interactions and the development of law practice skills.
 
 
 
     These project simulations will span the array of traditional legal
 subject matter, including transactional areas such as banking and corporate
 finance that have often been overlooked in the hands-on offerings of
 traditional law school curriculums.
 
 
 
     Also, the Law School's existing clinics and externship programs will be
 modestly expanded. All third-year students will be required to obtain a
 Virginia practice certificate and participate in at least one real-client
 experience during the year.
 
 
 
     At the same time, students will be immersed in a yearlong
 professionalism program that explores what it means to be a lawyer in
 today's society. This part of the curriculum features study and reflection
 on legal ethics, civility in practice, civic leadership and pro bono
 service.
 
 
 
     Former American Bar Association President Robert J. Grey greeted news
 of the curriculum change enthusiastically. "This reform is an innovative
 and practical way for law students to transition from the academic
 environment into the profession," said Grey."I believe my colleagues across
 the nation will laud Washington and Lee for implementing this challenging
 new model for legal education."
 
 
 
     Grey, who is a partner in the law firm of Hunton & Williams and a
 member of the Washington and Lee University Board of Trustees, has an
 extensive practice focused on administrative matters before state and
 federal agencies, mediation and dispute resolution, and legislative
 representation of clients.
 
 
 
     W&L's new third year will be staffed by a combination of permanent
 faculty, adjunct faculty and "professors of practice" drawn from legal
 practice and the bench. These faculty members will mentor students
 throughout the year and provide ongoing feedback on their work product and
 on their reflections on real-world ethical dilemmas.
 
 
 
     Current plans call for the new curriculum to be implemented over the
 next three to four years. After the phase-in period, the curriculum will be
 required for all students who matriculate at the School of Law.
 
 
 
     W&L is also inviting a distinguished group of external advisors from
 across the legal arena to assist in the planning and execution of this new
 curriculum, and it is likely that some of the advisory board members will
 become instructors in the third year.
 
 
 
     More information about W&L's new third year of law school is available
 online at http://law.wlu.edu/thirdyear.
 
 
 
 
 
     Washington and Lee University School of Law, in Lexington, Va., is one
 of the smallest of the nation's top-tier law schools, with an average class
 size of 22 and a 10-to-1 student-faculty ratio. The Law School's commitment
 to student-centered legal education, emphasis on legal writing and
 dedication to professional development is reflected in the impressive
 achievements of its graduates, which include six American Bar Association
 presidents, numerous state and federal judges, and Supreme Court Justice
 Lewis F. Powell.
 
 
 
 
 

SOURCE Washington and Lee University
    LEXINGTON, Va., March 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It's been more than
 100 years since law schools in the United States have overhauled how they
 teach students. The Washington and Lee University School of Law looks to
 change that with today's announcement of a bold plan to reform the third
 year of law school.
 
 
 
     "For some time, members of the legal profession, practitioners, judges
 and scholars alike, have urged law schools to place greater emphasis on
 professionalism and learning in context," said Dean Rodney A. Smolla.
 "W&L's new third year responds to these needs by requiring students to
 exercise professional judgment, work in teams, solve problems, counsel
 clients, negotiate solutions, serve as advocates and counselors -- the full
 complement of professional activity that engages practicing lawyers."
 
 
 
     The new third-year curriculum, approved unanimously by the Law School
 faculty, will be entirely experiential in nature. Traditional classroom
 instruction will be replaced by practice simulations, real-client
 interactions and the development of law practice skills.
 
 
 
     These project simulations will span the array of traditional legal
 subject matter, including transactional areas such as banking and corporate
 finance that have often been overlooked in the hands-on offerings of
 traditional law school curriculums.
 
 
 
     Also, the Law School's existing clinics and externship programs will be
 modestly expanded. All third-year students will be required to obtain a
 Virginia practice certificate and participate in at least one real-client
 experience during the year.
 
 
 
     At the same time, students will be immersed in a yearlong
 professionalism program that explores what it means to be a lawyer in
 today's society. This part of the curriculum features study and reflection
 on legal ethics, civility in practice, civic leadership and pro bono
 service.
 
 
 
     Former American Bar Association President Robert J. Grey greeted news
 of the curriculum change enthusiastically. "This reform is an innovative
 and practical way for law students to transition from the academic
 environment into the profession," said Grey."I believe my colleagues across
 the nation will laud Washington and Lee for implementing this challenging
 new model for legal education."
 
 
 
     Grey, who is a partner in the law firm of Hunton & Williams and a
 member of the Washington and Lee University Board of Trustees, has an
 extensive practice focused on administrative matters before state and
 federal agencies, mediation and dispute resolution, and legislative
 representation of clients.
 
 
 
     W&L's new third year will be staffed by a combination of permanent
 faculty, adjunct faculty and "professors of practice" drawn from legal
 practice and the bench. These faculty members will mentor students
 throughout the year and provide ongoing feedback on their work product and
 on their reflections on real-world ethical dilemmas.
 
 
 
     Current plans call for the new curriculum to be implemented over the
 next three to four years. After the phase-in period, the curriculum will be
 required for all students who matriculate at the School of Law.
 
 
 
     W&L is also inviting a distinguished group of external advisors from
 across the legal arena to assist in the planning and execution of this new
 curriculum, and it is likely that some of the advisory board members will
 become instructors in the third year.
 
 
 
     More information about W&L's new third year of law school is available
 online at http://law.wlu.edu/thirdyear.
 
 
 
 
 
     Washington and Lee University School of Law, in Lexington, Va., is one
 of the smallest of the nation's top-tier law schools, with an average class
 size of 22 and a 10-to-1 student-faculty ratio. The Law School's commitment
 to student-centered legal education, emphasis on legal writing and
 dedication to professional development is reflected in the impressive
 achievements of its graduates, which include six American Bar Association
 presidents, numerous state and federal judges, and Supreme Court Justice
 Lewis F. Powell.
 
 
 
 
 SOURCE Washington and Lee University