Thursday, February 28, 2008

Carnegie Report Reinforces the NITA Mission

A Special Perspective from NITA’s Educational Consultant, Jeanne Philotoff

As mentioned in our recent post, The Carnegie Report, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching released a report in March 2007 that reinforces what the McCrate Report found in 1992 and what the NITA faculty and staff have known for decades. The message: legal skills training must become an essential part of law school curriculum. Legal education needs to evolve to become more linked to the practical requirements of practicing law.

Most people familiar with NITA know that we started as a task force of the American Bar Association. The success of NITA was immediate. It must be noted that many of our original programs took place at the law schools where these very discussions on learning-by-doing are taking place today. You could (and in most cases, can still) find us at Hofstra, SMU, Nova Southeastern, Northwestern, Loyola/LA, Loyola/CA, University of Washington, and the University of California at San Diego, to name just a few. We created a mission that organizations believed in and were determined to become apart of. Materials were needed to train our participants and soon the law schools looked to NITA for the role-playing exercises needed to test the skills that faculty were trying to develop in their students.

Most graduates report that they are able to incorporate into practice the legal skills they’ve developed in school during their summer associate experiences after their first and second years of law school. It is this experience, and the fact they show themselves to be capable in the art of advocacy, that has the greatest influence on their career paths.

The Carnegie report suggests that the third year be designed as a kind of “capstone” opportunity for students to develop specialized advanced clinical training. Most schools now limit this opportunity to a few lucky students. We, like the Carnegie Foundation, would like to see this change.

Together, we can provide the quality education that our law students need and that their future clients deserve. NITA programs and publications can serve as a guide and catalyst toward a fundamental shift in law school curriculum. Integrating theory and practice, the abstract and the practical is of paramount importance.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The PSIM Consortium and NITA

On February 9 several individuals from NITA traveled to Tokyo and Nagoya, Japan, to discuss and plan for NITA’s relationship with the PSIM Consortium, a collection of 25 law schools throughout Japan that are dedicated to improving the study of law. For the next three years NITA will be working with the Consortium to provide translated materials, a faculty exchange, a customized teacher training program, and allow for many of the participating Japanese professors to attend NITA programs in the United States so that members of the Consortium can get a feel for the NITA method.

According to Lonny Rose, NITA's CEO & President, the goal is to develop the curriculum and methods to increase the skills of future Japanese lawyers and to promote the public’s confidence in the Japanese justice system.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Carnegie Report

At the recent American Association of Law Schools Convention in New York City there was much buzz about the March 2007 Carnegie Foundation Report on Educating Lawyers. The future of legal education is evolving from one of theory and lecture to practice in the first year of law school. This is an exciting time for NITA. One that promises growth in learning by doing.

More to come...

Legal Education Renaissance

NITA Program Director and Author, John Sonsteng recently launched a new project titled the Legal Education Renaissance through William Mitchell College of Law where he is a professor.

Here is an excerpt from the William Mitchell Web site:

The Legal Education Renaissance project began more than a decade ago. Two colleagues and I talked about how little we knew about the practice of law when we graduated from law school. We agreed that as new lawyers, we did not understand what it meant to be a lawyer. My colleagues asked why no one was doing anything to improve the legal education system and challenged me to do something about it.

To read the rest and to participate in the forum visit