Academics and Research / News

DU initiative seeks to change legal education

Rebecca Love Kourlis, executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System is helping start a new intitiative in legal education called Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers.

The practice of law has evolved with the times. Now, a University of Denver initiative is pushing law schools to keep up.

The DU-based Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) on Aug. 22 launched an initiative with 15 law school partners — including DU’s Sturm College of Law — pressing for change and calling for innovation that will produce lawyers ready to practice right out of school.

The program, called Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, is being promoted nationally and provides a platform to encourage law schools to showcase innovative teaching and produce practice-ready lawyers.

“Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers leverages the Carnegie model of learning,” says Rebecca Love Kourlis, executive director of the IAALS and a former Colorado Supreme Court justice. “Our project provides support for shared learning, innovation, ongoing measurement and collective implementation. We are very excited to launch this project to encourage new ways to train law students and to measure innovation in the years to come.”

IAALS is a national independent research center dedicated to the continuous improvement of the process and culture of the civil justice system.

William Sullivan, lead author of a 2007 Carnegie Foundation report titled Educating Lawyers, will direct the initiative.

Kourlis and Sturm College of Law Dean Martin Katz will serve with Sullivan on the Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers executive committee.

“Our goal is to encourage law schools that are already committed to innovation to share what they know in a structured, collaborative place so that other law professors may discuss and develop new teaching techniques,” Sullivan says.

Fourteen other law schools are participating in the initiative, including: The City University of New York School of Law, Cornell University Law School, University of Dayton School of Law, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, University of Maryland School of Law, University of New Hampshire Law School, University of New Mexico School of Law, Seattle University School of Law, University of Southern California Gould School of Law, Southwestern Law School, Stanford Law School, Suffolk University Law School, Vanderbilt University Law School and Washington and Lee University School of Law.

At DU, Katz has been an advocate of reinventing the law school experience with an emphasis on producing lawyers ready to work from day one. It’s a change from the days when law firms and other employers brought in newly minted lawyers and taught them the workings of day-to-day legal practice during their first years on the job.

“We want to help law schools integrate three sets of values, or what the Carnegie Foundation calls ‘apprenticeships,’” Katz says. “They are knowledge, practice and professionalism. We believe this initiative can change how law professors and deans, students and ultimately the legal profession respond to our changing world.”

For more information, visit the Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers website.


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