12 Elite Law Schools Recognized for Innovative Teaching Methods to Bridge Skills Gap

NEW YORK (AP) – Law schools across the country are being recognized for their innovative approaches to teaching critical lawyering skills. Bloomberg Law’s Law School Innovation Program, now in its second year, aims to identify and honor these schools for their pioneering efforts in legal education.

The program’s focus this year is on addressing the practical skills gap in traditional legal education. While most law schools adhere to the minimum mandates set by the American Bar Association for skills-based courses, there is a recognized disconnect between the skills students possess upon graduation and the skills they actually need to succeed as practicing attorneys.

To bridge this gap, the NextGen Bar Exam, which will be implemented in 2026, will assess students not only on their doctrinal knowledge but also on what it terms “foundational skills” necessary for practice. Inspired by this new approach, Bloomberg Law sought to highlight schools that are actively addressing the skills gap and preparing students for real-world legal challenges.

Law schools were invited to submit examples of innovative programs that go beyond the minimum requirements, specifically focusing on foundational skills such as investigation and evaluation, client counseling and advising, negotiation and dispute resolution, client relationship and management, issue spotting and analysis, legal research, and legal writing.

Dozens of law schools from across the country submitted their programs, which were evaluated by a panel of industry experts. The applications were assessed based on their novelty and innovative approach, as well as their impact on students and the legal industry. The top programs were categorized into four defining qualities: Changing Pedagogy, Beyond the Law, Immersive Experiences, and Career Pathing.

The 12 finalists for the 2023–24 Law School Innovation Program were selected based on their high scores and innovative approaches to teaching lawyering skills. These schools include Brigham Young University Law School, Harvard Law School, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and McCormick School of Engineering, Suffolk University Law School, University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, University of Minnesota Law School, University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law, University of Oklahoma College of Law, University of San Diego School of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School, Western New England University School of Law, and Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Over the next few weeks, Bloomberg Law will be showcasing each finalist and highlighting schools that received honorable mentions in each category. The program aims to inspire other law schools to adopt similar approaches and ultimately improve legal education for future attorneys.

For more information about the Law School Innovation Program and to read the full article, please click here.

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