Here's my idea: What if schools decreed that, after the 2L year, students could not earn any credits for graduation in standard lecture/exam law courses? Instead, to finish up law school, 3L students would have to earn credits through non-standard courses like clinics, seminars, externships, classes in other departments, co-curricular activities, independent study, etc. (A less ambitious, but still radical, approach would be to say that only half of 3L credits could be earned through standard lecture/exam law courses.
Two key points drive this idea:
- Most students have little desire or reason to be very engaged in standard law classes as a 3L: two prior years have removed all novelty from the teaching format; future employment may already be secured; 3Ls are acutely aware of the disconnect between standard classwork and practice skills.
- Most law schools and professors will only develop and teach non-standard courses if students demand them: standard classes are relatively easy and fun to teach (especially if taught before); they are economical because many dozens of students can be served by one faculty member.
By requiring students to earn many or all 3L credits through non-traditional means, students would be forced to figure out what non-standard law school activities they would find interesting and rewarding as they finish up. And law professors, in turn, would likely be pushed to develop more non-traditional courses and activities in order to serve student demands for a range of 3L options.
Cross-posted at Law School Innovation.