The changing dynamics in the field of land use and sustainable community development law demand that land use law professors rethink the way in which we prepare law students to practice law in this area. This needed paradigm shift converges with the growing momentum of the best practices movement which urges law schools to dramatically revise the curricular approach to legal education, arguing that traditional models are no longer effectively serving the goal of producing competent and fully prepared new lawyers. A perfect storm is present and a unique opportunity exists through the application of many “best practices” concepts for land use law faculty to lead the academy in reinventing curriculum and teaching strategies to better prepare students for the practice of law. A brief history of the best practices movement is described in Part II, as well as an assertion as to why land use should be the “poster child” for best practices. Part III reports on an empirical survey of land use law professors conducted by the authors in 2008 that examines, among other things, the opportunities to apply best practices to the subject of land use law. It also offers additional innovative examples of teaching methods that can be effectively utilized within the confines of the traditional classroom, using the land use law course as a model, as well as an example of how the land use law course can be used across the curriculum as a best practices capstone experience. The article concludes in Part IV with the observation that the shortcomings of the traditional casebook approaches to teaching land use within the four walls of the classroom can be easily converted into exciting opportunities that engage student learners, stretch the limits of student creativity, continue to instill and refine a sense of professionalism in law students and, consistent with the findings and recommendations of the Best Practices report and related literature, prepare students to be more effective lawyers when they graduate.
John R. Nolon & Patricia E. Salkin, Practically Grounded: Convergence of Land Use Law Pedagogy and Best Practices, 60 J. Legal Educ. 519 (2011).