Mitch Rubinstein, an adjunct professor at St. John's and New York Law Schools, posted a short review of my book on the Adjunct Law Prof Blog here.
Just to clarify, I don't think all law profs have to be practitioners first. But I do think law school should have more of a mix of traditional, skills, and clinical teaching than many currently do. Certainly the skills and clinical teachers should have practice experience, but that is the way it already is, for the most part.
The main point of the book is this: if indeed we need change in the legal academy - and there are a lot of reputable people who think we do - it won't happen without the help of technology. It has not happened for 100 years primarily because it is too expensive. But with recent developments in technology - just over the last 5 to 10 years - we finally have tools that can allow us to deliver effective legal education in a way that does not have to blow up the costs. I write about some of my own experiences using these emerging tools in the book, but there are many other law profs around the country who are doing similar things (see March 5 post). I want to raise and spotlight that discussion: about what works, and what does not, in using technology to deliver legal education more effectively than we currently do.
And yes Mitch, I did intend that the audience for the book would be all members of the legal academy. Perhaps even beyond, to educators in other settings. I have had, for example, quite a bit of interest from international law schools oversees. My trip to China, where I spoke at a two day conference for law school deans and professors, was eye-opening for me. I discovered that there is great interest in China in the things I discuss in the book, and that law professors in China share many of the same concerns that we have over here in the U.S. about legal education. I have a blog post here about the trip to China. There is also a short video about it on the video page of the book's website.
Josh Camson posted a nice review of my book on the SocialMediaLawStudent blog. His point about the potential conflict between encouraging collaboration and the curve is a fair one, but in practice, I have found ways to address that with students. There are certainly good arguments to be made against the curve, they just are not part of my arguments in the book.
Josh assumes that I am the only law teacher involved in using some of the advanced pedagogical technology I describe in the book. But the references section points to some of the scholarship written by other professors who have done similar things. Professor Paul Caron at the University of Cincinnati, for example, was the first law prof to use clickers in the law school classroom. I believe some others are using Wikis as well, in various ways - I describe only two ways I have used them in the book. Several others preceded me in teaching law courses online, among them Peter Martin at Cornell. I feel like I stand "on the shoulders of others" who are also involved in this effort, and that our joint efforts are only just beginning. (In one of the videos on the book's website I address this point directly). I wrote the book in part to encourage more of these sorts of efforts, so we can all learn from each other, and to elevate the discussion beyond just the latest new whizbang approach to teaching with technology (which seem to appear at every conference). One of my hopes is to unify these efforts behind the banner of effective and appropriate change in legal education.
What I found most interesting about Josh's review is that - from a student's point of view - I did not go far enough in LS2. There are probably law professors who think I went too far. Indeed, I have already heard from one of them, a "laptop banner," who was displeased with my arguments against banning laptops in class. But if the student view is that I could or should have gone farther in LS2 - particularly from a student immersed (as Josh is) in the use of social media - I think that sends an important message.