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Curriculum Proliferation

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4 Responses

  1. There is real scarcity already: there is a limited supply of classrooms and teaching times. Really. This is, for us, a significant constraint. We don’t feel improved by it, either.

  2. Jamison Colburn says:

    Boy, I couldn’t agree more that it’s a problem. But, depending on how your school’s curriculum committee handles matters, it’s a problem without a very good solution. In my experience, curriculum committees tend to be very deferential to the professor making the proposal. It’s really up to the Academic Affairs dean to serve as the important counterbalance and give voice to the concerns Eric notes. From what I can tell, though, that can be hard absent proof that dilution and confusion will be the result–proof that is almost never easy to get.

  3. Matt says:

    I doubt that some of your concerns are things that you should worry that much about. First, I don’t think that confusion via over-lap is something to worry that much about. Some over-lap is unavoidable and probably desirable- it gives more chances to learn important and hard topics. Some is less intrinsically desirable but gives students more chances to learn things they might be interested in. (At Penn, for example, there is a class on international trade regulation and one called “The Law of the WTO”. Obviously there is quite a lot of overlap and probably no one needs to take both. But, the first covers NAFTA and some other regulations while the WTO class doesn’t. And, one is taught in the fall and the other the spring so someone intereted in trade law has more chances to take a course on it.) I’d not worry that students might be confused and take a very similar class twice. Surely there are coure desecriptions they can look at? Or they could email the professor? If they can’t do this they probably ought not be lawyers. Similarly, if they are worried about the bar they can decide for themselves whether to stick w/ mostly “bar” courses while if they think they can learn what they need for that in Barbri while learning something else as well they will then have the chance. So again, assuming they are smart enough to be lawyers I don’t think you should worry about students here. The other concerns are real, of course, but as to the ones relating to students I don’t think there’s much there.

  4. Ty says:

    It seems that this issue is school specific. While higher tier schools traditionally have higher bar passage rates, adding classes will allow for more flexibility in scheduling since students will be able to self-study for the bar and take classes that will influence their practice. However, for some students who are not particularly great academics, they may shy away from the bar courses and enroll in more seminars in order to boost GPA/ranking. In this regard, a school administrator can serve as a check to make sure students who have below a 2.5 are not skipping core courses and caution them that they risk failing the bar and losing 8 months of a decent salary due to retaking the exam. In the end, I agree that if the student cannot tailor his own studies to his liking what use is law school other than a means to an end. If you have to “go to law school” when you are out in practice in order to find a field you enjoy b/c you missed out on opportunities to take other legal courses, then the law school you paid thousands of dollars to attend has cheated you. You know the old saying I never knew I went to law school to learn how to go to law school. It may aptly apply if schools do not offer a variety of courses.