SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • legal education;
  • legal pedagogy;
  • simulation-based teaching;
  • family law practice;
  • family law teaching;
  • integrative teaching;
  • general practice program

Teaching family law using the traditional casebook method provides students with marginal knowledge and skills. To practice family law, one needs to know how to interview and counsel clients, negotiate with opposing counsel, file pleadings and supporting documents, draft agreements, and understand tax consequences. Moreover, ethical issues abound in the practice of family law, such as confidentiality, conflict of interest, and fee arrangements. Critics of traditional pedagogies in legal academia have included the MacCrate Report, the Carnegie Report, and Best Practices for Legal Education. The Family Law Education Reform Project has focused its attention on the failure of law schools to keep pace with the ever-evolving nature and requirements of family law practice. This article offers one answer to those who seek to educate law students in a manner that will better prepare them for the practice of family law. The author, who is the director of Vermont Law School's General Practice Program, describes a family law course she has developed and taught for many years. The course is taught in an integrative fashion, and includes substantive law, practice skills, and ethical and professionalism issues. She offers the course as a response and antidote to the ongoing criticisms of tradition a methods of teaching law.