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Reforming the Legal Ethics Curriculum: A Comment on Edward Rubin’s “What’s Wrong with Langdell’s Method and What To Do About It”

Posted by on Thursday, April 30, 2009 in En Banc, Responses.

This Response addresses Edward Rubin’s March 2007 article “What’s Wrong With Langdell’s Method and What to Do About It,” which discusses the need for curriculum reform in U.S. law schools. He proposes a curriculum overhaul to reform, at a minimum, first-year law school courses, and he advocates that law schools develop more concentrations—programs akin to undergraduate majors—to offer students a more cohesive curriculum. Rubin also briefly mentions general student and faculty distaste for the course in professional responsibility required by most law schools but proposes no remedy for this issue.

This Response proposes to supplement Rubin’s suggested comprehensive reform with just such a remedy. Recent publications suggest that the required professional responsibility course in its current form is indeed disliked, outdated, and fails to teach law students adequately about real-world ethical issues in legal practice. To resolve this problem, law schools should implement a re-tooled legal ethics curriculum that weaves legal ethics into each core course in the law school curriculum. This method of integration, known as the “pervasive method,” will educate students about practical and relevant ethical issues associated with the particular legal discipline in conjunction with the standard course material. It will serve to reduce monotony in the coursework and provide a better setting than the standard Professional Responsibility course for examining real-world ethical issues in legal practice.

This Response will discuss how to implement the pervasive method in the law school setting and the advantages and disadvantages that accompany it.

Responding to What’s Wrong With Langdell’s Method, and What To Do About It by Edward Rubin