Teaching What It Takes
California Lawyer

Teaching What It Takes

September 2012

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Although a torrent of recent news stories report that law school graduates are struggling to find jobs, their alma maters appear to have been taking steps in the previous decades to better prepare students for success in the working world, according to a new survey sponsored by the American Bar Association.

The study - A Survey of Law School Curricula: 2002-2010 - finds that schools are requiring students to devote more time to legal research and writing courses during their first year, and that now 28 percent of schools require students to take an upper-division legal writing course.

There has also been a proliferation of professional skills classes offered by law schools, brought on in part by the curriculum requirement (Standard 302(a)(4)) the ABA implemented in 2004. "Schools report that once [a skills course] was required, it made schools go back to the drawing board to look at their curriculum and tally what they wanted and where the gaps were," says Catherine L. Carpenter, editor of the report and a professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.

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