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Law School Pioneers New Curriculum

Publication Date: 
February 21, 2012
The Stanford Daily
Mary Ann Toman-Miller

Stanford Law School was featured in the following Stanford Daily article by Mary Ann Toman-Miller on the law school's five-year approach to curriculum reform.

Stanford Law School (SLS) announced last week the completion of a five-year comprehensive reform to its second- and third-year law curriculum. The new multidimensional Juris Doctorate program incorporates a more interdisciplinary approach while emphasizing team-oriented problem-solving techniques and expanded hands-on clinical training.

The new curriculum will allow students to tailor their own joint degree programs in almost any discipline while expanding the international dimension of the program to integrate international business, national security and trade and tax law into the traditional curriculum. The school has added a new program, International Economic Law, to accommodate the needs of international students and those who plan to practice abroad. International students now make up 15 percent of the upper-level (second and third year) Law School student body, according to a Law School press release.


SLS also expanded its clinical education program, adding an in-house clinic operating as a single law firm: the Mills Legal Clinic. A clinical rotation-based system was introduced — based on medical school models — allowing second- and third-year students to learn without exams or courses. Sixty-five percent of second- and third-year students chose to enroll in a clinic in 2010, according to the Law School press release.

Gabe Ledeen J.D. ‘12, who served as a Marine Corps officer for four years before matriculating to Stanford Law School, provided feedback on the legal clinic curriculum.

“Being in Iraq and seeing what a country was like in a society without the rule of law gave me a deep appreciation for and hunger to understand our own system of laws and how they affect society,” Ledeen said.

He referenced his experience working at the Stanford Criminal Prosecution Clinic, run by Professor George Fisher J.D. ‘67 at the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office in San Jose, as a positive example of the school’s emphasis on real-world training.

We “are each assigned a primary supervisor who assigns us cases,” Ledeen said. “We write briefs, and argue cases, though not in front of juries.”


The Law School’s five-year initiative coincided with a University-wide five-year fundraising campaign, the Stanford Challenge, which has enabled the Law School to finance curricular and infrastructure changes. Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer spearheaded the implementation of the reforms.