Drafting my latest welcome note for Coastal Law Magazine’s summer 2012 issue, I reflect on what we have recently learned from the 2012 Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE). As those of us in legal academia know, the LSSSE focuses squarely on many promising teaching and learning practices, as well as other law school attributes that are thought to be linked to high levels of student performance.
More than 140,000 law students so far have completed the survey, making it one of the largest contemporary databases on legal education.
This year Coastal Law met or exceeded the national average for all law schools in virtually every category, even outclassing benchmarks measuring student satisfaction with the development of practical legal skills, career development support, student interaction and collaboration with faculty and other students, and the emphasis of ethics and personal values inside and outside of the classroom. I am particularly pleased to learn Coastal Law student satisfaction and engagement ethics has risen 16 percent since 2007.
In addition to participating in the LSSSE survey, since 2008 Coastal Law has administered an anonymous survey to members of the Florida Bar, in all circuits and practice areas, to learn which law school attributes are most important to them.
Our LSSSE results confirm our students model the most desirable attributes.
When asked to assess the importance of the various attributes of legal education in 2011, the lawyers surveyed said it was important for law schools to produce graduates who have high ethical standards and engage in professional practices and behaviors that reflect these standards. Ninety-four percent of the approximately 800 attorneys reported this attribute was very important or extremely important. This has remained the case since 2009, regardless of region of practice, employing organization, or size of private law firm.
The legal community survey also revealed the second most important attribute: law school graduate students who are prepared to work collaboratively. Once again, Coastal Law surpassed the national benchmark. The school scored well when reviewing responses to questions in the LSSSE that ask to what extent schools encourage contact among students from different economic, social, sexual orientation, and racial or ethnic backgrounds, and measure the quality of relationships with other students, faculty members and with administrative staff and offices.
At Coastal Law, we remain ever committed to our focus on student outcome. Learning our students appreciate and respond to this commitment confirms we are on the right track. To us, their satisfaction and engagement are more important than any other ranking out there.
Whether you are a former student, a law school contemporary, or a current or prospective student, thank you for your continued support of Coastal Law. I hope you enjoy the latest issue of Coastal Law Magazine.
C. Peter Goplerud III