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Beyond this Part I Introduction, Part II will briefly summarize why the Langdell tradition is at heart a learning model that intrinsically marginalizes active learning and exalts only a limited experience of skills teaching and acquisition and will conclude that the Langdellian tradition creates a hierarchy that juxtaposes knowledge of legal doctrine over skills. Part III will demonstrate a method for law teachers to incorporate skills teaching actively in the classroom, and do so in a way that legitimizes legal reasoning skills and elevates the teaching and learning of skills. Hopefully, as the Conclusion points out, the new normative in law schools should include a continuous engagement with active learning that integrates skills into the doctrinal classroom in a seamless way, rather than a formalist concept of education that isolates and depoliticizes law from practice. Whatever the new normal of law schools looks like now, one thing about the law will not change: The law is a discipline that is brought to life by us and our students through its practice. We cannot ignore that aspect of this field—nor afford to.


Originally published by the Journal of Legal Education in 2015.