For this week’s feature post (181), Legal Evolution is pleased to welcome guest contributor Neil Hamilton, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. who provides us with a remarkable window into the Competency-Based Medical Education (CMBE), which is a movement that is now more than 20 years old. The ABA now mandates that law schools formulate and publish learning goals, which is a necessary first step for Competency-Based Legal Education (CBLE). Post 181 sketches out what legal education might look like if we went all-in on the new model taking hold in the medical field.
Since the publication of Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (2007) (aka Carnegie Report), Professor Hamilton has emerged as the legal academy’s leading scholar on professional identity and formation. Yet, what makes Professor Hamilton’s work so rigorous and valuable is his tireless commitment to empiricism, as he is answering foundational questions on lawyer development with data. See, e.g., Neil W. Hamilton, “Empirical Research on the Core Competencies Needed to Practice Law: What Do Clients, New Lawyers, and Legal Employers Tell Us?,” The Bar Examiner (Sept. 2014); Neil W. Hamilton, “Law Firm Competency Models and StudentProfessional Success: Building on a Foundation of Professional Formation/Professionalism,” 11 U. St. Thom. L. J. 6, (2013); Neil W. Hamilton, & Verna Monson, “The Positive Empirical Relationship of Professionalism to Effectiveness in the Practice of Law,” 24 Geo. J. Leg. Ethics, 136 (2011). Likewise, under Hamilton’s leadership, the Holloran Center has become a magnet for important data related to the improvement of legal education.
There are many differences between law and healthcare, which is something that many lawyers are quick to point out. Yet, what I worry about is that the real difference is one of leadership—that in law we have yet to embrace the importance of governing ourselves through measurement and data. Fortunately, Post 181 gets us one step closer to taking the plunge.