This Article briefly reviews the long history of critiques of legal education that highlight the failure to adequately prepare students for what they will and should do as attorneys. It takes a sober look at the hurdles reformers face when trying to make significant curricular changes and proposes a modest menu of reforms that interested faculty and law schools can largely achieve without investing substantial additional resources.
This Article emphasizes the special contributions that alternative dispute resolution (ADR) can provide to legal education more generally. ADR instruction is an important corrective to a curriculum that routinely conveys the erroneous implication that litigation is virtually the only dispute resolution process that lawyers use. In addition to using litigation skills, lawyers must be able to understand parties’ interests, communicate effectively, and develop solutions acceptable to all the parties in a case. ADR instruction can help law schools teach students such insights as: facts are often contested, some disputes are not best resolved through litigation, not all disputes boil down to money, emotions should not necessarily be ignored, and other disciplines can be very helpful to attorneys.
The legal curriculum should not only teach these lessons in a few elective skills courses but it is even more important to include them as an integral part of core doctrinal courses throughout the curriculum. To achieve this goal, there should be improved coordination between doctrinal, litigation-skills, transactional-skills, and ADR faculty. Resources and technical assistance should be developed to help faculty better coordinate with each other. Accreditation standards should increase the requirement for ADR instruction. Legal education reformers should focus not only on the curriculum, but also on including law school admission criteria relevant to lawyering skills and increasing coverage of lawyering issues in bar examinations.
25 Ohio St. J. On Disp. Resol. 247 (2010).
Sternlight, Jean R., "The Potential Contribution of ADR to an Integrated Curriculum: Preparing Law Students to Real World Lawyering" (2010). Scholarly Works. Paper 286.