University of Denver

Ahead of the Curve: Turning Law Students into Lawyers

Former Senior Director
Founder and Principal, Vantage Evaluation

In recent years, law schools have been the subject of great scrutiny—by media, by the profession, by law students, and even by legal educators within the schools—about the quality of legal education and training they offer students.

Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers conducted an evaluation of the Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program at the University of New Hampshire School of Law to analyze the program's outcomes. The program is a collaboration between the law school, the state supreme court, and the state board of bar examiners, and provides a combination of experiential training and ongoing assessment; students are ultimately evaluated for bar admission based on their performance over the two-year program instead of sitting for the traditional two-day bar exam.

Our evaluation of the program found that:

  • In focus groups, members of the profession and alumni said they believe that students who graduate from the program are a step ahead of new law school graduates;
  • When evaluated based on standardized client interviews, students in the program outperformed lawyers who had been admitted to practice within the last two years; and
  • The only significant predictor of standardized client interview performance was whether or not the interviewer participated in the Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program. Neither LSAT scores nor class rank was significantly predictive of interview performance.

We believe that other schools, educators, and jurisdictions can learn from the success of the program. In this report, we provide recommendations for replication on both grand and small scales.