Deans Not So Impressed With Harvard 1L Curriculum:
The National Law Journal has an interesting article on how Deans at several top law schools are reacting to Harvard's requirement of a first-year courses on international law and regulation. Turns out they aren't particularly enthusiastic. An excerpt:
Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer said his school. . . has decided to follow a more traditional approach in its first-year curriculum and to leave the other courses for the second and third years of law school.

"The first year is the one year that works," he said. "It is rather bizarre that, in general, law schools have focused on reforming the first year when the problems and failures in the curriculum are all in the second and third years."

Harvard decided to modify its first-year curriculum because of the "imprint" that the initial year of study has on law students, said Martha Minow, a Harvard Law School professor who spearheaded its curriculum reform project.

"To postpone introduction to legislation and regulation is to communicate to students that it's an add-on. To postpone introduction to international law is to say 'that's for later,' " she said.

Minow also said that the changes at other schools influenced Harvard's revisions. "We are simply enacting what a lot of people have talked about and what a lot of people have done in pieces," she said.

Although Northwestern University School of Law recently altered its first-year legal research and writing course to include a broader communications and legal-reasoning component, it does not plan to change markedly its 1L curriculum, said the school's dean, David Van Zandt.

"I'm not a big fan of what Harvard's done," he said.
  I'm not sure I'm persuaded by Professor Minow's theory that international law and regulatory courses should be required 1L courses to "imprint" their importance. First, I don't know how much of an "imprint" 1L year courses actually make. My guess is that most students tend to forget the substance of their 1L courses more quickly than their later courses, both because they are further away in time and because the 1L year tends to be so stressful.

  I'm also not sure that locating a course in the first year vs. the second year sends a particularly strong signal. Constitutional law is a second year course at Harvard, but that doesn't communicate to Harvard students that constitutional law is an unimportant topic that's "for later." If anything, I wonder if the opposite may be true: requiring a course after the first year may signal that a course is so important that you have to study it when you have the basic courses down and can fully understand and appreciate its importance.