Making Lawyers out of Law Students: Shifting the Locus of Authority

Document Type


Publication Date



This article proceeds in three parts. Recent critiques of legal education have centered on two main themes: the cost of legal education and the need for curricular reform (to teach law students to be lawyers rather than legal theorists). In the first and second sections of this article, we address the call for curricular reform and describe the innovative curricular design of the STEPPS Program at California Western School of Law as an answer to that call. The STEPPS Program, a required second-year course in ethics and skills, provides a unique forum for teaching the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for a successful legal career. In the final section, we focus on the internal values in our students and the connection between the development of internal values and the expression of professional judgment. We explain why it is both difficult and necessary for new professionals to move the locus of authority from external to internal.