February 26, 2013
A Dean's View: Only Law Schools That Tackle Costs, Graduate Client-Centered Lawyers Will Survive
ABA Journal Legal Rebels: Only Law Schools That Tackle Costs, Graduate Client-Centered Lawyers Will Survive—A Dean’s View, by Jeremy Paul (Dean, Northeastern):
As calls for reform of legal education continue to suggest a variety of directions, one thing is certain. Law schools will be expected to do more with less. We often hear legal educators highlight tensions within the loud criticisms aimed at today’s law schools. Critics tell us that costs are too high compared to the expected earnings of many law school graduates. They are. Critics also say that law schools are insufficiently sensitive to the realities of contemporary law practice in which lawyers must be fast as well as smart, client-centered as well as thorough, and business-savvy as well as legally sophisticated. How, our colleagues often wonder, are law schools supposed to provide additional professional instruction while simultaneously slowing tuition increases? We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we are sure of one thing. Only those law schools that tackle this challenge directly are likely to thrive.
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The reason why law schools are floundering is that the emerging demands of the market for client-centered, practice-focused lawyers will require a radical re-shift in the balance of power within faculties. Tenured doctrinal faculty will by necessity become a smaller component of a law school faculty as legal writing, clinic and practitioner-oriented courses (usually taught by adjuncts) become the dominant aspects of the educational program. Added benefit for law schools trying to cut costs: the shift will save money and increase flexibility because the skills- and practice-oriented faculty usually don't have tenure and are paid significantly less than tenured, doctrinal faculty.
Posted by: Mark in Spokane | Feb 26, 2013 2:54:40 PM