According to a National Law Journal article, the American Bar Association recently reported that law schools' curricula have incurred significant changes as a result of the worsening job market. The ABA found that 76 percent of law schools have cited some sort of change in curriculum as a means of adapting to the new market.The ABA also reported a 19 percent increase in law schools that offer 1L student electives.
Hulett “Bucky” Askew, the ABA’s Legal Education Consultant, told NLJ that, “The survey responses reveal a renewed commitment by law schools to review and revise their curricula to produce practice-ready professionals.”
Nearly 87 percent of law schools, the ABA reports, have begun to offer joint-degree programs, where students have the chance to earn multiple degrees, the most common being the J.D./M.B.A. combination. Offering joint-degrees is a seemingly effective strategy in educating future job applicants. This change also parallels the new emphasis that several firms have put on business-oriented skills. Last year, several large firms, such as Skadden, implemented the Fullbridge Program, which is a “mini-MBA” course designed by Harvard Business School Professors that teaches first year associates essential skills in dealing with large corporations and clients.
In its press release last year describing the program, Skadden explained that Fullbridge is effective in guaranteeing that junior associates “understand [clients’] businesses, [and] appreciate their objectives and anticipate their concerns.” Skadden’s technique of providing “extension training on subjects not generally taught in law school, such as valuation, financial analysis and project management” seems to be trickling down to law schools as well.
Additionally, law schools have utilized different strategies in offsetting the drop in law school applications. As we posted earlier, UMass Law School froze tuition for three years for both in and out of state students. Above the Law reported that other law schools such as University of Miami Law and University of New Hampshire Law have also froze tuition. These tuition caps have allowed these law schools to stand out during a time when many schools are implementing tuition hikes.
Although the survey reveals some momentous changes, it also cites several areas that have remained constant. It reported that credit hours required for a degree have largely stayed the same and that curriculums do not always reflect the material present on Bar exams.