Welcome to the website of the Legal Education, ADR, and Practical Problem-Solving (LEAPS) Project of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution’s Law Schools Committee. The LEAPS Task Force was formed in 2010 to improve legal education.
For years, both educators and practitioners have raised concerns that law schools do an inadequate job of preparing law students to practice law. Blue-ribbon committees going back to the early 20th century have repeatedly made this point. The 1992 MacCrate Report and the 2007 Carnegie Report are only the latest reports to reach this conclusion.
Law schools too often do a poor job of helping students integrate what they learn in their courses. Law school curricula generally are based on the assumption that students can integrate a complex body of knowledge and skills simply by taking a series of discrete courses. These include courses about a wide range of matters covering substantive and procedural doctrine, professional responsibility, and transactional, litigation, and other dispute resolution skills. Although clinical courses often integrate these elements, they are relatively expensive and normally comprise a small part of students’ programs, if at all.
The website is designed to help faculty incorporate what we call “practical problem-solving” (PPS) into their instruction of a wide range of courses, including doctrinal, litigation, transactional, and ADR courses. The website provides the following resources:
- Descriptions of various teaching methodologies (Teaching Techniques)
- Suggestions for how to engage colleagues in teaching more PPS in their courses (Engaging Colleagues)
- Possible “talking points” for discussing the incorporation of PPS into doctrinal courses (Overcoming Barriers)
- A survey of how schools integrate practical problem-solving skills in their J.D. curricula (Curriculum Models)
- Lists of consultants who can help on specific courses (Subject Area Resources)
- Suggestions for making discussions with faculty as productive as possible, including PowerPoints. (Discussions about Legal Education)
- Examples of course exercises, approaches to introducing PPS in doctrinal courses and other teaching materials (Subject Area Resources – right hand column)
- Links to relevant resources on other websites (Useful Links)
Instructors have real limitations of time in and outside of class and there are institutional barriers that often get in the way of general curricular reform. Being sensitive to these concerns, the Task Force developed this website to share ideas, techniques, contacts and other resources to help faculty incorporate PPS into their teaching.
For more information about the rationale for the LEAPS Project, see John Lande & Jean R. Sternlight, The Potential Contribution of ADR to an Integrated Curriculum: Preparing Law Students for Real World Lawyering, 25 Ohio St. J. on Disp. Resol. 247 (2010).
We hope you will find this website to be helpful. If you have comments or suggestions, please contact us.