In The New 1L, leading teachers in the field describe how, in the first year of legal education, they teach students to act, as well as think, like lawyers. In their courses, clients are central not extraneous. Working under a lawyer’s supervision, students interview clients, conduct factual investigations, draft pleadings, and write memoranda and briefs. The authors argue that, in isolation, theory and practice are incomplete, and first-year educators must integrate the two. They discuss the benefits and challenges of this new 1L approach, and also provide a range of successful models for any teacher who wants to adopt this pedagogy to a first-year course. What they say is particularly relevant today, when many are criticizing law schools for their over-reliance on the Langdellian teaching method and failure to produce practice-ready graduates.
The innovative courses the authors describe bring about collaborations between classroom instruction, legal research and writing (LRW), and interactions with clinical teachers and lawyers (appointed, or not, as adjunct faculty). These collaborative teaching models are essential to the future success of legal education, the authors contend. These models include LRW courses that base assignments on actual legal work, core courses that add practice components to traditional theoretical instruction, courses adding skills instruction and actual client work to the 1L curriculum, and courses that invite 1L students to enroll in clinics.
This book is a must-read for deans, curriculum committees, and legal educators.
“[T]he authors offer loads of practical advice that professors and curriculum committees need to modify the curriculum or individual courses to include real-client work. […]Importantly, because the authors have instituted client work in the 1L curriculum in a variety of ways, The New 1L offers something for everyone, whether you’d just like to dip your toe in these uncharted (or barely charted) waters or are ready to dive in headfirst. […]The most important parts of this book, I think, are those in which the authors explain how they negotiated the political processes in their institutions to get support for the programs.[...]
The New 1L is a quick read that is chock full of valuable information and inspiration for those interested in improving 1L curriculum through the addition of real client work. As I said, I’m inspired by this book and think others will be as well. In the face of changing legal education, I think (and hope) the ideas offered in The New 1L become the standard and get students—from the beginning—participating in and thinking about the types of work they’ll actually be doing in practice.” — Lady (Legal) Writer Blog