Coordinated Classes?

Thanks to Deven for getting this excellent discussion started.

I agree with the proposition that experiential learning is very valuable and should probably occupy a more significant place in the legal education than it presently does, particularly on the transactional side. However, experiential learning is often extremely expensive. By necessity, student-faculty ratios must be low in order to ensure adequate supervision and individual attention. It’s easy for law schools to say they want to start clinics or other such programs. It’s something else to come up with the money. Indeed, I suspect that financial challenges are among the largest that law schools face when trying to increase experiential learning. So how might law schools respond to these challenges? Perhaps law schools could collaborate with other departments in universities to give students in both fields the opportunity to interact with professionals in another.

For example, many business schools have business planning courses or competitions in which MBA students conceive of and plan startup businesses. Almost without exception, those businesses will encounter challenges that require legal knowledge to solve–whether choice of entity, financing, intellectual property, and even plain torts or contracts issues, to name a few. Why not use these challenges to give law students the opportunity to learn from the problems of business planners, and also give business students the opportunity to learn about how law affects their enterprises? Granted, this may not be the same thing as “live client” clinical work, but it has certain advantages as well. If nothing else, this kind of education is far less costly than starting a new clinic. Moreover, teachers can manage the interaction between “lawyers” and “clients” to make the educational experience more predictable and potentially richer.

Obviously, a big challenge in starting up such a class is a willing partner at a business school. At Boston College, we’ve been fortunate to have faculty at the Carroll School of Management who support the idea that professionals from different fields should learn to work with each other during school. We’ve also had expressions of interest from business schools that don’t have law schools, but haven’t pursued those possibilities yet.

Are there other such collaborative efforts in other schools? I’d be curious to know.

One thought on “Coordinated Classes?

  1. Yes! Yes! Yes! It would be a great idea to have joint classes between JD and MBA students (Northwestern Law already does this, I believe), and we could have other classes that combined grad or professional students in other disciplines with JD students. Part of the goal is to teach JDs that they need to learn the cultures and lingo of other disciplines in order to be able to give better legal advice, and part of the goal is to teach JDs that law is part of problem-solving but rarely solves problems all on its own. Bravo for this suggestion!

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