National Trends in Legal Education
Several professional studies inspired and/or confirmed the decision to create the STEPPS Program. These are
summarized below and, perhaps most significantly, two of these studies were published in 2007 and are
significant discussion and reaction from law schools. While many law schools are beginning the process of
appropriate curricular reform, California Western implemented changes.
- Carnegie Report
In 2007, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching released Educating Lawyers: Preparation
the Profession of Law. The authors of the report stressed the relationship between analytic
skillful practice, and wise judgment, and found that a professional school must induct students in all three
areas. Rather than provide a coherent integration of these aspects of professional work, most law schools
each aspect separately, with greatest emphasis on analytical thinking. Less emphasis is given to skillful
and even less on professional identity and purpose, which deal with the values of the profession. The Report
states that these latter two areas must be taught by simulation and participation.
One of many relevant conclusions in the report states: “Compared with the centrality of supervised
with mentoring and feedback, in the education of physicians and nurses or the importance of supervised
the preparation of teachers or social workers, the relative marginality of clinical training in law schools
The Report also focuses on the learning process from novice to expert. It finds “that learning happens
when an expert is able to model performance in such a way that the learner can imitate the performance while
expert provides feedback to guide the learner in making the activity his or her own.”
- Best Practices for Legal Education
Another influential 2007 work, Best Practices for Legal Education, echoes the criticisms and
of the Carnegie Report and identifies specific curricular and pedagogical strategies for helping
make the transition from novice to practitioner. The report concludes: “Students cannot become
legal problem-solvers unless they have opportunities to engage in problem-solving activities in hypothetical
real legal contexts.”
The report is critical of legal education’s traditional curricular emphasis on analysis at the expense
“human connection, social context, and social consequences.” It states:
Expert judgment requires not the separation but the blending of knowledge and skill. In practice, knowledge,
skill, and ethical components are literally interdependent: a practitioner cannot employ one without
others at the same time. The evidence suggests that in effective programs of clinical learning in many
professional fields, the key is to use analytical thinking to foster, rather than replace, the cultivation
analogical and practical reasoning.
The report concludes that Professional Responsibility must be integrated into other learning.
- ABA Standard 302
ABA Accreditation Standard 302 requires law schools to provide substantial instruction in the fundamental
and values enumerated in the MacCrate Report.
- MacCrate Report
In July 1992, the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar
report entitled Legal Education and Professional Development – An Educational Continuum, Report of the
Force on Law School and the Profession: Narrowing the Gap. This report has become known as the
The Task Force concluded that it is the responsibility of law schools and the practicing bar to assist
and lawyers to develop the skills and values they will need during their professional careers. The Task
developed a Statement of Skills and Values that are desirable for practitioners to possess; it encouraged
schools to use these when considering modifications to or development of skills and values courses.