Bliss Helps Edit New Book on Best Practices in Legal Education
New Book Includes Georgia State Law Faculty Contributors
“Today’s law students will enter a profession vastly different from the one their predecessors experienced, for which different skills, knowledge and values are necessary.”
This insight led Lisa Radtke Bliss, associate clinical professor and director of experiential education at Georgia State University College of Law, and three co-editors to develop a follow-up volume to the seminal work, Best Practices in Legal Education, a 2007 resource for legal educators to help prepare students to enter the profession, written primarily by Roy Stuckey.
The latest work, Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World, covers important developments since the publication of Best Practices. It is a reflection on the best of current and emerging practices to help guide educators and law school administrators in designing curriculum to meet the needs of future lawyers.
“Our committee developed strategies to help educators and law schools implement best practices in legal education,” Bliss said of the Clinical Legal Education Association’s Best Practices Implementation Committee, which she and one of her co-editors, Carolyn Wilkes Kaas, co-chair. “Through our work on implementation, we realized legal education was changing rapidly at the same time that the legal market was undergoing significant changes.
“Topics that were emerging as essential to legal education were not covered in much depth in the original work,” said Bliss, who also co-directs the college’s HeLP Legal Services Clinic. “For example, the rise of experiential education, interdisciplinary education, problem-solving and conflict resolution, and intercultural effectiveness were areas of interest to legal educators seeking to provide students with the most effective preparation for becoming a lawyer.”
In 2011, Bliss and three other law professors agreed a new book was necessary. The group consulted with Roy Stuckey and began working with other law professors to identify innovations and practices that have emerged since the publication of Best Practices. They also evaluated the profession’s changing conditions and identified a broader range of knowledge, skills and values that lawyers need in today’s landscape to be successful.
“I felt a great responsibility to our readers and the legal education community to do all the innovations and issues we covered justice, which is why we had such a large-scale collaboration. Each section had multiple readers with the expertise to make sure we captured the most current thinking and that the book represented a consensus among professionals about the ideas presented,” Bliss said.
Fellow Georgia State Law faculty are among the book’s collaborators. Clark D. Cunningham, W. Lee Burge Professor of Law and Ethics, wrote the section on Learning Professional Responsibility. Along with Bliss, Sylvia B. Caley (J.D. ’89), associate clinical professor and Health Law Partnership director, and Emily F. Suski, assistant clinical professor, co-wrote the Interprofessional Education section.
“I hope our content will encourage other professors to consider engaging in interprofessional education, both in traditional doctrinal classes, as well as experiential courses,” Suski said. “I want students taking those courses to develop effective communication skills and collaboration understandings that they can apply to the practice of law.”
Bliss also co-wrote sections on Incorporating Experiential Education Throughout the Curriculum, Delivering Effective Education in In-House Law Clinics and A Conscious Institutional Strategy for Expanding Experiential Education.
“Building on Best Practices is a master class for legal educators,” said Leslie Wolf, professor of law and director of Georgia State Law’s Center for Law, Health & Society. “We can learn about how to improve our own teaching so that we prepare our students to practice in today’s world. The contributions of Georgia State Law professors are a testament to the commitment we have to teaching excellence.”
In all, the book, which was published in July, includes input from 59 authors, 92 readers, three copy editors, miscellaneous consultants and assistance from student assistants, including Luke Donohue (J.D. ’16).
“I cannot underestimate the large scale of collaboration involved in this project,” Bliss said. “The book shares what the best of the best consider emerging and best practices, so we can continue to improve the future of our profession. Though there is always more we could have included, we will pass the torch to the next group, like Roy Stuckey passed it to us, to address in a future volume.”
To ensure the book is distributed as widely as possible, the editors and publisher, Lexis Nexis, agreed to make available an ebook version to all law professors free of charge. A small number of print copies are available for $50 from LexisNexis.