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Is W&L law the future of legal education?

While news reports note plummeting law school applications, one legal scholar sees salvation for legal education in the third-year practicum embraced by Washington & Lee’s law school.

The enthusiastic review comes from William Henderson, law professor at Indiana University law school. In a recent essay, he cited data from a Law School Survey of Student Engagement provided by W&L.

In one measurement, W&L consistently scored higher in 3L student participation than a group of peer law schools. The numbers showed W&L “dramatically outperforming its competition,” Henderson wrote.

W&L’s example “ought to be a watershed for legal education,” Henderson concluded.

Henderson cited stats showing impressive gains in applications at W&L, but a professor at George Mason University’s law school said those numbers might be deceiving. David Bernstein urged a close look at the GPAs and LSAT scores for the applicants.

The dialog did not stop there. W&L law Prof. James Moliterno responded with a post endorsing Henderson’s call for study and change in legal education with the aim of giving law students “at least a head start” in developing the attributes, skills and mental habits of successful lawyers.

No doubt the give and take will continue amid what The New York Times called “soul searching debate about the future of legal education and the profession over all.”

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