Aligning the Law Library Strategic Plan with "Program of Legal Education"

In addition to ABA Standard Chapter 6 concerns, as the ABA continues to focus on a law school's "program of legal education," it is wise for law libraries to take note and align their strategic plans directly with the "program of legal education."

Accordingly, Standard 601 states:
(a) A law school shall maintain a law library that:
(1) provides support through expertise, resources, and services adequate to enable the law
school to carry out its program of legal education, accomplish its mission, and support
scholarship and research;
(2) develops and maintains a direct, informed, and responsive relationship with the faculty,
students, and administration of the law school;
(3) working with the dean and faculty, engages in a regular planning and assessment process, including written assessment of the effectiveness of the library in achieving its mission
and realizing its established goals; and
(4) remains informed on and implements, as appropriate, technological and other
developments affecting the library’s support for the law school’s program of legal

Fortunately, we know what "program of legal education" refers to through guidance from the ABA Site Evaluation Report Template (Questions 11-38). When reviewing the relevant "program of legal education" questions, the Law Library often takes an active role in the following:
  • Question 16 dealing with student learning outcomes, particularly as the outcomes pertain to legal research proficiency. 
  • Question 17 on preparing students, upon graduation, for admission to the bar and for effective, ethical, and responsible participation as members of the legal profession. After all associate, on average, spend 35% of their time doing legal research.
  • Question 20 discussing the first year writing experience because legal research is a part of legal writing. 
  • Question 21 regarding the upper level writing requirement -- see legal research as a part of legal writing. 
  • Questions 23 & 24 dealing with experiential learning and simulation courses. Law libraries have led the way with hands-on experience in the classroom. 
  • Question 26 dealing with classroom instruction component of domestic field placements. Most of us provide legal research instruction here, too. 
  • Question 29 dealing with "directed research" because many law librarians have individual research consultations with independent research study students or law review students. 
  • Question 30 pertaining to distance education courses. Law libraries often teach online courses or support the course management system used by the school. 
  • Question 35 covering academic support. Nearly every law library has substantial supplements and other study aid resources. 
  • Question 37 dealing with formative and summative assessments. This is another area where law libraries have led the way in our for-credit courses. 
When doing strategic planning for the law library, these matters should be addressed so that law library services and programming align directly with the law school's program of legal education. 

For some, this may be an entirely new way of thinking about how the law library fits into the overall scheme. But it will allow for easier written assessment of the law library to articulate ongoing value to the law school. 


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