Professor Karin Mika coordinated the “Legends in the Law” panel presentation at the Northwest Regional Legal Writing Conference held at the University of Oregon (Eugene) on April 25-26. The panel included Ralph Brill (Chicago-Kent), Marjorie Rombauer (University of Washington), and Mary Lawrence (University of Oregon), all three of whom are William C. Burton “Legends in the Law” award winners for their contributions to innovation and improving the quality of legal communication in the profession.
The panel discussed the decades-long struggle to give credibility to skills training in law schools, as well as the decades-long struggle to convince the academy that it is not enough for students to be taught to “think like lawyers” but that students must learn how to apply their thinking to legal issues involving real people and to communicate their thinking clearly. The panel also discussed how the name “Legal Writing” has always suggested the erroneous concept that Legal Writing is a grammar and sentence-writing course as opposed to a course about critical thinking, problem solving, and communicating clearly one’s thinking. Finally, the panel discussed the future of legal education in terms of the necessity for incorporating experiential learning in a modified law school curriculum.