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2011 CELT News


Professor Mary Lynch's Forthcoming Article on Outcomes

Professor Lynch recently posted an article entitled " An Evaluation of Ten Concerns About Using Outcomes in Legal Education" which will be published in the William Mitchell Law Review.  Here is a piece of the abstract:

Relying on the expertise of higher education experts, such as Professor Barbara Walvoord, this article examines some of the realities and misconceptions surrounding the use of student learning outcomes. It identifies the likely consequences of institutionalizing an outcomes model, acknowledges the pitfalls, and attempts to allay fears that are based more on antagonism to change than on likely risks. 

Moving to a process by which we identify and assess outcomes while integrating theory, practice, and professional identity is not a simple matter, but it is an important one. Those who work on legal education reform need to be aware of the benefits, risks, pitfalls, and choices involved in institutionalizing an outcomes approach.

Interviewing and Counseling Workshop

Last Friday, Professor Laurie Shanks co-hosted with Rutgers-Camden Professor Harriet Katz and Faulkner Professor John Craft an “Interviewing And Counseling Workshop” at Albany Law which attracted faculty and academic deans from over 20 schools,  and over 14 states.  The conference was innovative and thought provoking  and will result in a cache of teaching materials to be hosted on the CELT website

ABA Approves NYSBA Resolution on Practice Ready Lawyers 

Late last week, the New York State Bar Association presented a proposed resolution to the ABA House of Delegates at their Annual Meeting in Toronto and the need for law schools to create more practice ready lawyers. Portions of the proposal were taken from the "Report on the Task Force on the Future of the Legal Profession" The story was reported by John Caher in his article N.Y. State Bar Asks ABA to Support ‘Practice Ready’ Law School Education

Yesterday, the resolution was passed by the House of Delegates. The full resolution can be read here.

CELT Inaugural Conference

Albany Law Center for Excellence in Law Teaching (CELT) invites you to its Inaugural Conference:

“Setting and Assessing Learning Objectives from Day One.”

SAVE THE DATE: March 30, 2012 (with registration and dinner the night before!)


  • Individuals interested in improving legal education
  • Individuals interested in breaking down the “silos” of doctrinal, clinical, “theoretical”, “practical” skills and “Legal Writing”/Lawyering faculty 
  • Individuals interested in the process of identifying and assessing objectives under new ABA Standard TOPIC

Click here for more information.

Rubrics Discussion on Best Practices

As Law Professors strive to  provide more formative assessment and more meaningful  evaluation of student performance, rubrics have become a  hallmark of good assessment practices.   They provide clear direction for students and a more focused classroom experience.  They help students and professors work from a common understanding of what is expected.

However,  rubric creation is not an exact science.  At the 2011 Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Conference   “Engaging and Asssessing Our Students,”  four of us – Albany Law Academic Dean Connie Mayer, Villanova Professor Michele Pistone, Professor Marisa S. Cianciarulo at Chapman University School of Law and Albany Law Professor Mary Lynch –  will be presenting a workshop on Using Rubrics to Assess and Engage Law Students. In an effort to create better rubrics and understand their impact on student learning, we intend to follow up our presentation with discussion and information exchange on this page dedictated solely to rubric discussion. 

Click here for the Best Practices Rubrics page.

Practically Grounded Conference 

On May 5, 2011, the Practically Grounded Conference - co-sponsored by Pace Law School’s Land Use Law Center and Albany Law School’s Government Law Center and Center for Excellence in Law Teaching – took place offering professors an opportunity to showcase and learn about context-based learning strategies in dynamic practice areas.  Nearly a dozen land use and environmental law professors from law schools across the country presented their skills and values teaching models. Additionally, our resident experts facilitated extensive discussions regarding best practices for teaching practice skills to students in upper division courses.

Click here for the brochure.

  SRC Holds Robust Debate on Security of Position and Academic Freedom Proposals

In the wake of the ABA's Standards Review Committee (SRC) open forum in Chicago on April 2-3, SALT and CLEA issued an official report on the proceedings.  The report details the strong opposition to the SRC's proposals on security of position and the negative impact on clinical faculty.

Click here for the full report.

NYSBA Takes Position in Favor of Learning Outcomes and Tenure

On March 28, 2011, the New York State Bar Association released a letter to the ABA Standards Review Committee expressing concerns over the direction the latest Standards drafts are heading.  While the NYSBA is pleased that the SRC is taking on these challenges, it knows that stronger language is required regarding outcomes and tenure.

Click here to read the full letter.

AALS Pleads With ABA To Put Accreditation Review On Hold!

AALS President Michael A. Olivas on behalf of the Executive Committee of the AALS called for a halt to the review process in order to engage in  a discussion of “first principles” and  a broader discussion of the aspects of “current American Legal Education that are valuable enough to preserve through the accreditation process. ”  The March 28 th letter addressed to Hulett H. (Bucky) Askew,  the Consultant on Legal Education,  expresses concern about the real  harm the current proposals will generate including a potential “race to the bottom” as schools find that they can reduce their offerings and services while still remaining accredited.   

To read a full copy of the letter click

SRC to Hold Open Forum in Chicago

The ABA Standards Review Committee (SRC) will hold a public forum in Chicago during the morning of Saturday, April 2, 2011.  

The SRC is actively considering issues of faculty status, governance and security of position.  The process is coming to a critical juncture and participation by faculty from across the country has become essential.  The current round of review of the ABA Standards for Law School Accreditation raises crucial issues for the future of legal education, broadly, and clinical legal education, specifically.  While not everyone who attends the meeting will have the opportunity to address the SRC, we believe that it is very important to show the SRC how many of us are concerned about these issues and are paying close attention to the process.

Click here for full details.

Click here for a list of speakers.

Professor Ralph Brill Comments on ABA Changes to Tenure and Job Security

The recent changes proposed by the ABA regarding tenure and job security drew a strong reaction from many observers. The latest is Professor Ralph Brill from Chicago Kent College of law who drafted an 18 page memo to the ABA.

Click here for the full draft.

NYSBA Taskforce on the Future of the Legal Profession Report

The New York State Bar Association released the report from the Task Force on the Future of The Legal Profession in late February.  While the report covers a broad range of topics, the topics of interest here concern Educating and Training New Lawyers which includes: new assessment and training techniques, preparing students to practice, and helping lawyers form a professional identity.

Read more on the Best Practices blog.

Dean Guernsey Presents on "How to Draft Multiple Choice Questions In order to Accurately Assess Student Learning"

On February 9th, Dean Tom Guernsey presented at a CELT event held at Albany Law School. Dean Guernsey has been a consultant for bar examiners for 26 years. From 1992 until 2004 he was a consultant to the National Conference of Bar Examiners for Performance Based Testing. He has also been a consultant to the California Committee of Bar Examiners on Performance Based Testing since 1984 and continues today. He currently consults on drafting multiple choice questions with a consortium of law schools.

The workshop will focus on developing law school examinations that will both better prepare students for the Multistate Bar Examination and be a better assessment tool in law schools.

Click here for the PowerPoint presentation.