Document Type


Publication Date



This paper discusses the various ways in which interviewing and counseling skills may be assessed. It proceeds on the assumption that such skills are integral to competent lawyering and that they ought to be taught and evaluated in law school. After briefly describing the American legal context in which these skills might be taught, the paper begins with a discussion of One-on-One Teacher Feedback. This method might be used for learning purposes or for grading purposes or both. In either case, there should be criteria distributed with notice to the students. While this has been the preferred method among law school clinicians, medical education researchers have demonstrated that live professorial assessments are not always fair or consistent. This suggests, therefore, that alternative techniques ought to be explored, and that a more valid way to evaluate these skills might be to use multiple methods of assessment. At a minimum this approach might reflect more fairly students' different learning styles. It might also take advantage of the opportunities students would have to improve their skills through repetition.

The paper goes on to describe various other evaluation methods:

Videotaped Performance Test - This is a written exam in which students are asked to complete an analysis of a video depiction of a lawyering performance.

Multiple Choice Questions - In response to a video performance, a transcript of a performance or a transcript of the interaction, the students would be asked to answer multiple choice questions focused on the skills.

Self Assessments - Students would be asked to complete an analysis of their own performance (usually videotaped) using the same kind of criteria or analytical framework used for the videotaped performance test.

Standardized Clients - A lay person is trained to roleplay a client or witness and then to assess the performance of the student lawyer. The evaluation is done on a checklist prepared by the professors.

Computerized Exams - One or more of the above options done either on line or on a DVD in which the students' responses could be recorded and then transferred to the professor in the course.

Each of these methods of assessment has its pros and cons, and that leads me to the conclusion that using a variety of methods of evaluation might be the best route to follow.