Law Schools

Washington & Lee’s New Curriculum Will Go On Without Innovative Dean

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As news broke of Dean Rodney Smolla’s imminent departure from Washington & Lee University School of Law to become the president of Furman University, concerned law students worried about the fate of the school’s 3L curriculum reform, which launched this fall.

The program eliminates traditional coursework and focuses on the practice of law through simulated or real-work situations. More than 50 percent of Washington & Lee’s 3L’s are participating in the currently optional program, which will become mandatory in 2011. The reformed curriculum also accounted for a 33 percent boost in admissions this fall.

Although it is Smolla’s brainchild, the new curriculum will continue with the support of law students, faculty and the legal community, Mary Natkin, assistant dean for clinical education and public service, told the ABA Journal.

“The third-year program isn’t just about Rod,” said Natkin, who added that the movement of professors and deans is a common occurrence in academia. “We’ve got 20 practicums, six clinics, and dozens of faculty members, lawyers and judges involved. It’s beyond one man.” The school has already received positive feedback on the new courses from the inaugural class, she added.

Smolla starts his new position July 1, according to a press release.

Hat Tip: TaxProf Blog, Above the Law

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