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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cassidy: Strategic Austerity May Save Law Schools and Improve Learning Outcomes

R. Michael Cassidy (Boston College), Strategic Austerity: How Some Law School Affordability Initiatives Could Actually Improve Learning Outcomes, 16 Chapman L. Rev. ___ (2013) (Symposium on The Future of Law, Business, and Legal Education: How to Prepare Students to Meet Corporate Needs):

Legal educators are now engaged in some very difficult and painful conversations about the financial model of legal education. Schools that take an ostrich-like approach to this challenge risk becoming obsolete or irrelevant. What follows are seven proposed changes to the structure of legal education that could simultaneously reduce overall costs to law students, and improve the quality of their education. Quality is not always synonymous with price. With vision and lots of hard work, it may be possible to do more with less.

  1. Varying the Three Year Model
  2. Allow for Paid Externships
  3. Vary Teaching Loads
  4. Short Term Contracts: Creating a “Third Track” for Full-Time Faculty
  5. Maximize Course Enrollments
  6. Expand Seats in Clinical Programs through Use of Teaching Fellowships
  7. Cut Back on Law Reviews

We are now facing a perfect storm of over capacity of seats, shrinking demand for legal services in several sectors of the legal profession, and a flawed economic model of the professoriate. Some have likened this crisis to the automotive industry in Detroit in the 1970s and to the steel industry in Pittsburgh in the 1980s. We ignore these challenges at our peril, and risk walking backwards over a precipice while pointing blindly to the responsibility of others in the system. The law schools that are able to react nimbly and decisively to these changing demographics might state the most convincing case for attracting the precious tuition dollars of aspiring lawyers.

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First step in "strategic austerity" -- halt tours of the law schools.

Posted by: Woody | Mar 10, 2013 12:44:50 PM

Like the steel and auto industries? Does that mean the production of lawyers will be sent to Asia?

That might be a good thing. The Asian countries would then have all of the lawyers screwing up their economies.

Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Mar 11, 2013 1:43:00 PM

The law school biz has way too much capacity. "Reform" is better characterized as "survive the imminent massive shakeout".

Posted by: Larry | Mar 12, 2013 10:32:30 AM