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Law Schools Offer New Curriculum to Address Modern Issues
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Columbia Law School. Photo courtesy of New York Daily News.

Summary: Law schools continuously update their curriculum to help students succeed in the real world.

Change is inevitable. As issues in law continue to evolve and emerge, law schools must update their curriculum to prepare their students to practice in a modern landscape. For instance, this semester, students at top-ranked Columbia Law School had the chance to study about issues pertaining to the Zika virus and students at John Marshall Law School learned how to the update legal documents of transgendered people to match their new identities, according to Law.com. This semester, law students also got a chance to study technology, venture capitalism, and Islamic law amongst other topics.

  
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Manuel Utset, associate dean for academic affairs at Florida State University College of Law, said that his university is active in keeping up with the times. Florida State asks alumni and potential employers what skills graduates need, and then the school works to fill in those gaps in the curriculum. For instance, Florida State plans on offering a cybersecurity class next spring, and they have already implemented classes on financial statement interpretation and electronic discovery.

Highly ranked law schools, Arizona State University and Duke University, teach animal law courses. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, they are amongst 150 law schools who teach students about legal matters involving things like animal food safety, dog fighting, and abuse. At Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, there is even a center devoted to the fight to protect our furry friends.

Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota offers a legal course on baseball, and it’s taught by Judge Louis Schiff, who coauthored “Baseball and the Law: Cases and Materials,” a textbook about famous legal disputes in the sport. According to the school’s website, “The course will also examine role of the Commissioner of Baseball, player salaries, franchise relocations, fan safety, gambling, memorabilia, and youth baseball. Law and the Business of Baseball will strengthen the participants understanding of such core subjects as civil procedure, constitutional law, property, and torts.”

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The University of California–Berkeley School of Law has a tight relationship with Silicone Valley, so it makes sense that they would offer their students courses on venture capital governance. Adam Sterling, the executive director for Berkeley’s Center for Law, Business, and the Economy told Law.com that the school hoped to establish itself as the “leading center for the study of corporate law and capital markets on the Pacific Rim.” The VC course is taught by Scott Kupor, managing partner at Andreessen Horowitz.

Like Berkeley, Harvard Law also understands the value of technology. According to The Crimson, Harvard Law has actively been seeking law students with STEM backgrounds, and they have already created programs such as the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics to bridge science and the law.



“This is the direction that the world is headed. Some of the most interesting questions in law right now are driven by science moving faster than the law does,” Harvard Law School chief admissions officer Jessica L. Soban told The Crimson. “The profession needs—and Harvard Law School kind of driving that needs—people who are able to engage on these topics and are interested in these topics.”

With our global economy, lawyers must understand different legal systems, which is why New York University now offers a course on Islamic Law. According to the NYU website, the purpose of the course is to introduce students to the sharīʿa, which was “the primary system of social governance in the Islamic world for over a millennium.”

What courses do you think should be offered at law schools? Let us know in the comments below. 



 

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