Harriet N. Katz

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Law schools have compelling reasons to begin thoroughly reviewing their skills curriculum. Three new publications emphasize that preparing students for practice as competent and ethical lawyers is the central mission of legal education and scrutinize methods for achieving that goal. A new ABA Standard for Accreditation (the "Standard" or "Standard 302"), revised in 2005 to mandate skills education for every law student, is now being applied at law school reaccreditation reviews.

In addition, Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (the "Carnegie Report"), a report written by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and Best Practices for Legal Education ("Best Practices"), an analysis conducted by law professors, were both published in 2007 and distributed nationally. The Carnegie Report and Best Practices examine law school pedagogy throughout law school curriculums in light of the ambitious goal of preparing students for ethical and competent practice. Their thorough critiques of legal education should inspire law schools that review their curriculum for compliance with ABA Standards to expand their effort and promote excellence in skills education. ...

In light of these developments, this Article suggests how a law school can use the review of its skills curriculum implicated by Standard 302 to understand and strengthen its ability to develop the professional skills of its students. This Article focuses on principal areas of information to investigate when evaluating skills education and on specific challenges in conducting that review. The Article also comments on initial efforts of this type at Rutgers University School of Law- Camden.

Part II of this Article considers how key requirements of the Standard can be understood expansively in light of the ambitious goals of skills education embodied in both the Carnegie Report and Best Practices. Part III continues in that spirit, going beyond the ABA Standards to identify additional teaching practices and curriculum structure with important links to effective skills education. Part IV addresses the challenging task of understanding attainable pedagogical goals for skills education in its various forms. Part V identifies the principal tasks and challenges in evaluating a skills curriculum. Finally, the Article suggests that evaluating skills curriculum yields worthwhile outcomes, such as communication among all faculty members about goals and methods, more comprehensive options for students, and development of standards for the ongoing process of improving the program of skills education.