Articulating Outcomes – Help for Law Schools

If law schools are to assess outcomes, an early step is to answer the question, “What outcomes?”  The prospect of articulating outcomes for a law school may seem overwhelming for many deans and faculty members.  But existing resources give law schools a well developed starting point.  In the 1990s, the MacCrate Report set out a list of professional skills and values.  In Outcomes Assessment for Law Schools (Institute for Law School Teaching, 2000), Greg Munro gave detailed examples of outcomes appropriate for law schools and for individual courses.  Another excellent resource is Chapter 2 of Best Practices for Legal Education (2007), which contains an extensive discussion of goals and outcomes for legal education.  So, a law school could start from scratch to identify the critical knowledge, skills, and values that its students should have at graduation.  My law school (Gonzaga) did just that in the early 1990s to begin the process of curriculum reform.  In 2007, Gonzaga is again taking a comprehensive look at its curriculum.  (This proves among other things that I’m getting old, since I am now the chair of the committee that is looking to reform the efforts of the 1990s curriculum review committee that I also chaired…)  This time around, we are starting with skills and values we synthesized from MacCrate, Outcomes Assessment, and Best Practices.   

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