Significant Curriculum Reforms on the Horizon

SPC Insider Report 2013/2014

Associate Dean of Faculty Sarah Harding at the most recent Commencement ceremony. 

A memo from Dean Sarah Harding to faculty in March 2013 began: 

Times are tough. Things have to change…We have always prided ourselves on being an entrepreneurial institution, so we should be good at this. Right?

Months of discussion and admittedly intense debate have coalesced into a plan called Praxis which, if approved by faculty, would be implemented in the fall of 2014. Dean Harding, Dean Krent, and head of the faculty Curriculum Committee Prof. Katharine Baker have led the development process, including benchmarking with other schools, holding alumni taskforce meetings, and weighing dozens of ideas.

Praxis is an umbrella label encompassing new required courses, additional focus on experiential electives, and a certificate program. It was developed in an effort to broaden the Chicago-Kent education past legal writing, advocacy, and doctrine to ensure that the school produces not just “practice-ready,” but “client-ready” graduates. 

Dean Harding wrote that “‘skills’ no longer means just the ability to draft documents or craft an oral argument, it means the ability to collaborate, build client relationships, network, run a business, exercise practical judgment, and be an entrepreneur.” At the same time, she noticed that law schools were beginning to market their skills-based programs heavily and more effectively. 

Chicago-Kent needed to evolve in order to graduate competitive students, market our most innovative efforts effectively, and attract prospective students with more choices than ever.

There are five key components to Praxis:

  • Two new mandatory courses—Business Foundations 101 and a doctrinal application course—to be completed before the start of students’ second year
  • A first-year elective option to help students explore or pursue specializations early on: business organizations, patent law, or clinical rotation
  • A requirement that all students take 16 credits of experiential learning prior to graduation (students are currently required to take 11 credits of experiential coursework)
  • New course offerings that focus on the emerging technologies transforming the practice of  law, including case management, document analysis, and governmental administration
  • The Praxis Certificate, a certification program designed for students who are interested in fully embracing a practice or experience-based course of study

Students who complete the Praxis Certificate will have completed 24 hours of skills-based learning, satisfied a list of competencies such as persuasion and collaboration, created an online portfolio, and enrolled in a third-year law practice management class.

The Praxis set of curriculum recommendations was presented to faculty for consideration in August and could continue to evolve until approved.

August 27, 2013