Pathways Documents

background documents and work in progress

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in the news

    Jason Kerwin
    Pathways Implementation Taking Next Steps
    in the news posted February 3, 2015 by Jason Kerwin 
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    Pathways Implementation Taking Next Steps

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    • Robert E Jensen

      "A More Practical Model for Law Schools," by Alice Armitage and Robin Feldman, Harvard Business Review, December 24, 2015 ---
      https://hbr.org/2015/12/a-more-practical-model-for-law-schools

      The JD is no longer the ticket it once was to a stable career and high earnings. With skyrocketing levels of student debt and limited job opportunities, potential law students are foregoing legal careers. And with depleted budgets and enrollment at a 40-year low, law schools are scrambling to remain relevant.

      Legal education needs a radical change. To do this, it is imperative that we rethink the standard law school model — a series of required classes, some of which have little connection to the work most students will actually do as lawyers. There is a need for scalable, affordable experiences that connect students to firms and the practice of law — similar to medical school residency programs.

      Even President Obama has suggested that it is worth discussing the merits of a law degree program that entirely replaces the third year of course work with a medical school residency–style program in which students would rotate through several practice areas.

      But revolutionizing legal education need not be confined to a single class for select students. The Startup Legal Garage at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law is one program reenergizing legal education, immersing more students in real-world experiences, capitalizing on the best that traditional law school pedagogy has to offer, and remaining cost-effective for law school budgets.

      The Startup Legal Garage is structured in a unique way. Professors guide students by teaching soft skills and doctrinal classes, and they set up fieldwork projects by matching students and early-stage tech startups with partners at top law firms. The practicing attorney supervises student work on basic legal needs such as employee contracts, privacy policies, and entity formation — and the student is placed at the center of real-world law practice.

      Summer internships have always provided real world experience, of course, but they are based on the notion that everything can be learned on the job. The Startup Legal Garage model marries the best of what law schools can offer with the best of what such summer apprenticeships can offer. Tenured faculty teach the underlying doctrines in the classroom; students then bring sanitized versions of the deals they are working on into the classroom, where the professors can slow down the action, walk through it step-by-step, and show how the doctrines are working in context. There is little time for this type of education in the fast-paced world of modern practice, and there is little real world content in the glacially-paced traditional law school classroom.

      Over 100 students have gone through the program in the last two years, reorienting their legal education to hone the skills they need before their first day on the job. One recent graduate of the program, now practicing at a major law firm in Silicon Valley, said, “I can honestly say [the Startup Legal Garage] did more to prepare me for the work that I’m doing on a day-to-day basis than any other class in law school.”

      Other law schools are also working with the private sector to give students a better chance at a promising legal career. Lewis and Clark Law School, in Portland, Oregon, offers a legal practicum course that places students in the legal departments of local corporations. This in-house experience is combined with a seminar focusing on the legal matters they are likely to face as corporate counsel. The University of Chicago Law School, partnering with the firm of Kirkland & Ellis, has created the Kirkland & Ellis Corporate Lab program, coupling a classroom component with a competition in which students engage in a series of corporate legal challenges based on real-world scenarios.

      Continued in article

      Jensen Comment 1
      Immersing students in real-world experiences apart from traditional case study courses does not fit well into the traditional law school business model that had a very high student/faculty ratio and large classes. Wealthy universities might experiment with this models, but most law schools that are struggling financially and laying off faculty will find it harder to immerse students in real world experiences.

      Jensen Comment 2
      Given the Pathways Commission findings that accounting doctoral students are too isolated from problems of the practicing profession and conduct research of little interest to the profession, this recommendation may also apply to accountancy doctoral students --- immersing more students in real-world experiences,
      Many of our accountancy doctoral students have weak backgrounds in accounting since these programs shifted admission priorities to mathematics, econometrics, and computer science majors. Immersing these student in real-world accounting experiences is a great ideal given the initiatives of the Pathways Commission.

      Plenary Session Video:
      Building Bridges from the Academy to the Business Community
      Stanford University Professor Charles M. C. Lee
      American Accounting Association 2015 Annual Meetings
      http://commons.aaahq.org/posts/79da0665ee
      I suspect this video is available only to subscribers to the AAA Commons that is free only to members of the American Accounting Association

      Jensen Comment
      Actually this video is quite good about how academic accounting researchers should get closer to the real-world profession, a profession that he defines more broadly than the accounting profession. Much of the video is focused on the the profession of finance and its real world decision makers.

      The best quote in the video is a borrowed quote from Mark Wolfson.
      "Risky research is doing research that everybody else is doing."
      To this I might add "using tools, like some variation of regression research, that everybody else is using."|
      To this I might add is "using purchased databases that everybody else is doing." My limited study of this is that over 90% of the recent research in The Accounting Review entails using purchased databases that enable the accounting researcher to avoid having to creatively invent ways of collecting data. ---
      "A Scrapbook on What's Wrong with the Past, Present and Future of Accountics Science"
      http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/AccounticsWorkingPaper450.06.pdf