Tag Archives: legal education

A reading list on Legal Education: Guest post from SJ Nussbaum

Guest post from Osgoode PhD2, IFLS reading group member, GLSA conference organizer etc, Sarah-jane Nussbaum. Sarah-jane and I are really interested in your suggestions for important readings – I’m looking for new (but send your classics) work on race  gender in legal education. -sonia

Thinking about Law Teaching: A Legal Education Reading Group &A Reading List (a starting place) on Legal Education and Pedagogy

Over the course of the 2017-2018 academic year, I had the pleasure of facilitating a peer-led legal education reading group for Osgoode Hall Law School’s Graduate Program in Law. The idea to develop the reading group arose in collaboration with Professor Sonia Lawrence, Osgoode’s Graduate Program Director. We invited graduate students and faculty members to join informal meeting sessions aimed at fostering reflection on legal education and pedagogy. Session themes were chosen collectively, with members of the group sharing input on the types of topics they wished to explore.

Listed below are the readings we covered during this year’s sessions. I am tremendously grateful to reading group participants and Osgoode faculty members for introducing me to a number of the resources on this list, and for contributing to thoughtful and engaging discussions. Through our four sessions, we barely began to scratch the surface of the range of topics proposed and the wealth of literature available. The list below is meant to offer a sample of some exceptional, novel, and timely readings on legal education and pedagogy. I hope it might be helpful to anyone interested in tracking down materials on legal education, dipping into some of the scholarship, or developing a similar reading group!

I plan to continue facilitating the reading group at Osgoode this coming year, and I will post readings as the sessions unfold. I would also be grateful for any suggestions, ideas, and thoughts [you can put these in the comments, or write to Sarah-jane directly, her email is on the downloadable reading list]

— Sarah-jane Nussbaum, PhD Student, Osgoode Hall Law School


September 21, 2017

RA Macdonald, Book Review of Introduction to the Study of Law by SM Waddams, (1981) 31 UTLJ 436.

Julian Webb, “The ‘Ambitious Modesty’ of Harry Arthurs’ Humane Professionalism” (2006) 44:1 Osgoode Hall LJ 119.

October 2, 2017

Alli Gerkman & Logan Cornett, Foundations for Practice: The Whole Lawyer and the Character Quotient (Denver: Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, 2016), online: <http://iaals.du.edu/sites/default/files/reports/foundations_for_practice_whole_lawyer_character_quotient.pdf>.

Mari J Matsuda, “Admit That the Waters Around You Have Grown: Change and Legal Education” (2014) 89:4 Ind LJ 1381.

November 24, 2017

Ruthann Robson, “Enhancing Reciprocal Synergies Between Teaching and Scholarship” (2015) 64:3 J Leg Educ 480.

Heidi Holland, “Utilizing Various Learning Styles and Repetition to Enhance Understanding”, Institute for Law Teaching and Learning, Law Teaching Blog, online: <http://lawteaching.org/2017/02/28/gutilizing-various-learning-styles-and-repetition-to-enhance-understanding/>

Heather K. Gerken, “How to Teach the Socratic Method with a Heart” (Fall 2014) 21:1 The Law Teacher 24.

Sophie Sparrow, “Making Time for Students to Think” (Spring 2016) 22:2 The Law Teacher 16.

Steven I. Friedland, “Teaching Beyond Boundaries: Using Signature Pedagogies to Enhance Learning Outcomes” (Fall 2015) 22:1 The Law Teacher 25.

Nancy Levit, “Teaching to Engage” (Spring 2014) 20:2 The Law Teacher 7.

Note: The Law Teacher articles are all available electronically on the Institute for Law Teaching website: <http://lawteaching.org/the-law-teacher/>

February 5, 2018

Canada, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (Winnipeg, 2015), online: <http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf>. See especially Calls to Action #28, 50.

Jeffery G Hewitt, “Decolonizing and Indigenizing: Some Considerations for Law Schools” (2016) 33:1 Windsor YB Access Just 65.

Karen Drake, “Finding a Path to Reconciliation: Mandatory Indigenous Law, Anishinaabe Pedagogy, and Academic Freedom” (2017) 95:1 Can Bar Rev 9.


Mari Matsuda NIP: Admit That the Waters Around You Have Grown: Change and Legal Education

As powerfully written as all of her work, this article is filling a space that i really needed filled.  Fleas indeed.

All of this  law was born on dark roads in rural towns where courageous acts forced the arc of history to makes its turn.

Indiana Law Journal Volume 89 | Issue 4 Article 2 Fall 2014 (open access)


This Lecture is prompted, in part, by critics of legal education who have identified its unsustainable and regressive practices. It is not intended, however, as another entry in the future-of-law-schools genre. Rather, it is an attempt to reposition the conversation by putting the law school crisis at the tail of a drowning dog with a bigger problem, and then to see how we fleas on the tail might appropriately respond



W.G.Hart Legal Workshop 2014: Legal Ed & Training & the Professions

Wonderful looking workshop here, intended to follow on and provide distance from the huge Legal Ed & Training Review exercise in England & Wales (see here, for the reports of this “…. evidence-based review of education and training requirements across regulated and non-regulated legal services”)

The Institute for Advanced Legal Studies in London is running the workshop, IALS Research – W.G.Hart Legal Workshop, people like Jessica Guth and John Flood are tweeting about it under #legaleducation and you can also read Paul Maharg’s incredibly comprehensive live blog on his site – click here.

It really does look interesting.  And it illustrates both that the LETR seems to have produced a massive amount of research and research community around some of these questions about legal education – but also the ways in which this conversation is enriched by some – any? – research on the legal education.  What is actually happening on the ground? We really do need to know about the things we don’t know.


reblogged from Dean Sossin's Blog | Osgoode’s Approach to the “Integrated” Law School LPP

can’t exaggerate the importance of this issue.

Dean Sossin’s Blog | Osgoode’s Approach to the “Integrated” Law School LPP.


April 4, 2014

In November, 2013, Convocation of the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) voted to approve Ryerson University and the University of Ottawa as the providers of the new, post-JD pathway to licensing, the “Law Practice Program” (LPP). Importantly, the LPP is a three year pilot project (with a possible extension of a further two years). At the same meeting of Convocation an application from Lakehead University’s new law school to deliver an “integrated practice curriculum” that would fully satisfy the new LPP requirements was unanimously approved. As a result, students graduating from Lakehead’s new three year program (its first graduating class will be in 2016) will not be required to article or take the LPP after graduation, but may move directly into the licensing process and write the licensing examinations. Subsequent to the November decisions, LSUC has indicated that it will entertain applications from other law schools wishing to offer an integrated practice curriculum that fully meets the skills and tasks competencies listed in the original Request for Proposals (RFP) for the LPP. 

In February of 2014, Osgoode’s faculty met to discuss the implications of the LPP for the J.D. program. Arising from that meeting, I have worked with a group of Osgoode faculty and senior administrators who volunteered to take a leadership role in gathering more information and broader perspectives on the issue. We hope this project, which is ongoing, will inform a broader discussion at Osgoode (and, potentially, across law schools and with the profession). We feel it important to signal that it is not the intention of Osgoode Hall Law School to make any application to the LSUC at this time. Osgoode’s final decision will have to wait for answers to the questions we raise below and until our discussion with the whole Osgoode community is complete. The considerations informing the conclusion of the working group are described briefly below.


1. Osgoode’s Ongoing Leadership in Experiential Learning

Osgoode has been—and continues to be—a leader in the continually evolving thinking about what constitutes a quality legal education that will enable graduates to flourish in a varied and dynamic professional environment. We have had an ongoing discussion about the importance of clinical education and experiential learning for decades. We have had two major curriculum reforms in the recent past and multiple strategic planning processes. The resulting vision we have developed of experiential learning and reflective professionalism at Osgoode seems significantly broader than the view of “tasks,” “skills,” and “competencies” reflected in the LSUC’s Pathways Report and the RFP for the LPP. For example, our understanding of the educational value of “competencies” differs from the use that is made of this concept in the requirements for an Accredited Law Degree—particularly in the context of today’s exciting, complex and pluralistic profession. The Lakehead program has been very intentionally constructed with a particular practice vision in mind, one suited to practice in Ontario’s northern communities. Osgoode’s program, by contrast, seeks to prepare students for a multiplicity of professional roles in a wide array of practice contexts.

2. Uncertainty and Ambiguity

The LPP is itself a pilot project, and we are keenly interested in whether and how well the specified regulatory objectives are met by the project, and what other effects the LPP might have on, for example, articling. We would also need to know more about the plan for evaluation of the Lakehead integrated curriculum and how the graduates of that program are received by the profession upon graduation. 

There are operational uncertainties regarding the LPP. For instance, the LSUC has not indicated how work placements are to be secured or what will happen if there are fewer placements than students. In the event of chronic shortages, questions arise about the viability of sustaining the LPP even over the short term. Serious questions also persist as to the impact of LPP placements on the ongoing availability of clinical placements, and vice-versa. Recently, law students were surprised and concerned by the way that the implementation of the LPP has significantly changed the cost of the LSUC licensing process. No doubt there will be more issues and challenges as the roll out of the LPP continues.

The environment is shifting fast and Osgoode will want to fix on a path only after serious deliberation, consultation and reflection. The LSUC has instituted a significant number of changes—possibly the most significant changes in the last half century—in a very short period of time (without, in our view, an adequate evidentiary basis, sufficient reflection, or consultation with the law schools). The possibility of other changes, including the abolition of articling and the changing nature of the job market for our graduates, also highlights the importance of having as full information as possible prior to any decision.

Osgoode is particularly concerned about the lack of information from the LSUC about what kind of reporting and monitoring regime would be required of any law school offering an “integrated practice curriculum.” The potential of increased monitoring, oversight, reporting and regulation by the LSUC raises critical issues of academic independence and integrity.

3. Cost Consequences

For Osgoode, there are potential costs to modifying our program in response to these recent and still unfolding developments. There are costs to the vision of the JD education and the program we have built (including the very direct impact on our current clinical offerings). There are costs in terms of staff, planning and expenses. For students, there are costs in terms of fees and time invested in new programs with uncertain returns, but also the cost of opportunities for broader legal education foregone. Nonetheless, Osgoode must continue with its established approach to the planning of its degree programs, one that emphasizes being responsive to changing contexts and alert to the costs and benefits associated with change.

4. Responsive Planning for a Dynamic Profession

Although we conclude at this time that the case to immediately modify our JD program is not convincing, Osgoode must approach our future plans with attention to the full scope of our context and with a full understanding of the implications for our students, legal education, and the profession. 

One way to understand the task is to deepen the concept of “practice readiness” beyond its use for the short-term task of licensing. The Osgoode JD aims to prepare students for a multiplicity of professional roles in a wide array of practice contexts by fostering analytical, communication, ethical and professional skills that will be valuable throughout careers that will see significant dynamic change.  In addition to the changes in the “Pathways” to licensing, it is clear that major shifts are underway in the profession and the market for legal services.  As such, there is little doubt that the occasion is upon us to think deeply about the future of legal education in light of such change.

To ensure that the Osgoode JD continues to ready its graduates for excellence throughout their careers, some essential tasks for Osgoode to address now include to:

                     Identify the most important social challenges and opportunities relevant to the design of our JD program, such as regulatory changes, shifts in job markets for JD graduates, changes in the structure of law firms including mergers and failures, retrenchment and expansion in US and other foreign law schools, and increased presence of foreign-trained law graduates in local markets;

                     Review and reflect on our curriculum reform efforts to re-articulate the essential values advanced by the Osgoode JD;

                     Develop a clear articulation of what is meant by “experiential learning” at Osgoode and how Osgoode’s approach relates to the LSUC’s regulatory competencies;

                     Continue Osgoode’s leadership in innovative lifelong professional education and reflect on the benefits and costs associated with new developments such as technology-enhanced learning, new approaches to pedagogy and best practices in professional training, and the comparative experience of professional training in other fields and in other jurisdictions; and

                     Connect to other law schools in Ontario and outside the jurisdiction regarding shared visions about the future of legal education and the legal profession.

By reflecting carefully in these ways on the convergence of so many major developments in our legal landscape, we will continue, in collaboration with our students and alumni, to build on Osgoode’s longstanding tradition of leadership as a public institution that offers responsive and reflective legal education.