How will law schools meet the challenge of expanding their education in lawyering skills as demanded from critics and now required by the ABA? This article examines the details of the experiential coursework (clinic, field placement, and skills courses) of 2,142 attorneys. It reveals that experiential courses have not been comparably pursued or valued by former law students as they headed to careers in different settings and types of law practice. Public interest lawyers took many of these types of courses, at intensive levels, and valued them highly. In marked contrast, corporate lawyers in large firms took far fewer. When they did enroll in such courses, they too found the courses delivered good value to their preparation for practice, but at distinctly lower levels. The analyses provide three valuable takeaways relevant to most, if not all, law schools — i) all lawyers, whatever their practice, give high value marks to experiential learning courses that had certain intensity characteristics (e.g., level of student responsibility, time-on-task, multiple experiential learning courses); ii) career relevance is fundamental to understand how well the learning value of experiential learning coursework endures and supports graduates’ early practice; and iii) schools should acknowledge that students with certain profiles have systematically dodged experiential learning courses. If schools want to avoid malcontents in the classroom, they should address experiential learning course intensity and career relevance as they plan to meet the ABA’s new standards requirements for experiential education.
Reuter, Margaret and Ingham, Joanne M., "The Practice Value of Experiential Legal Education: An Examination of Enrollment Patterns, Course Intensity, and Career Relevance" (2015). Articles & Chapters. 466.