Deborah Maranville, Lisa Radtke Bliss, Carolyn Wilkes Kass & Antoinette Sedillo López



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A key characteristic of effective education is that students are able to retain and build on the information, skills, and values they learn in their work in later courses and in the world. Doing so is known as transfer of learning. Ultimately, for law students that means they are able to transfer what they learn into the work they do as professionals. Best Practices for Legal Education did not delve deeply into the educational literature on transfer of learning.

Underlying its preparation for practice theme, however, was an implicit recognition that both individual law teachers and law schools as institutions must educate students in a manner that facilitates transfer. Law teachers know all too well the challenges of achieving transfer: students often deny having encountered a legal doctrine that was unquestionably covered in another class. While this phenomenon raises other important questions, such as to what extent and for how long do students retain information conveyed in the classroom, it also potentially raises the question of transfer of learning. Even if students remember the information in its initial context, can they draw on it in a new one?

Transfer is a core issue for effective teaching and learning, especially in the context of professional education where students are expected to be able to use their skills–even if the skills in question are solely the analytical ones supposedly taught in the conventional law school classroom–when they encounter new problems. Yet, until recently, how to create conditions that will lead to transfer has been a neglected question in legal education.

Transfer of learning is critical if law schools intend to educate skilled professionals, but the research suggests that achieving transfer is neither easy nor automatic. Thus, for both the individual teacher and law schools responding to the call to either improve or truncate legal education, it is a best practice to attend to educational strategies to improve transfer of learning, both from individual courses and the curriculum as a whole.

Title of Book

Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World



Publication Date


Document Type

Book Chapter


Carolina Academic Press


Durham, NC


transferring learning to practice


Legal Education

Transfer of Learning

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