National Law Journal, Legal Education in 'Perilous Moment' as Leaders Gather to Examine Its Future:
Times are troubled for legal education. That’s the tenor of the conversation among legal education leaders from across the nation who have gathered in Miami this week.
At the Summit on the Future of Legal Education and Entry to the Profession, the first panel discussion on Thursday quickly turned to issues of declining law school enrollment, soaring student debt, a stagnant entry-level job market and the justice gap.
“We’re in a perilous moment,” warned James Leipold, executive director of the National Association for Law Placement during the first panel of the two-day summit, co-sponsored by Florida International University College of Law and the Law School Admission Council. “There is a push-pull between admission offices and the job market.” ...
Participants disagreed early on about how well law schools have changed to address the mounting pressures bearing down on legal education and the challenges students and graduates face.
Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director of Accreditation and Admission to the Bar, said that despite years of crisis, law schools have yet to undergo deep structural changes. “We haven’t really had any major reforms. We should have done it yesterday,” Currier said. “We’ve tinkered around the edges of the fundamental challenges of the business model.”
But law schools have changed with the times, countered Wendy Perdue, dean of the University of Richmond School of Law and president of the AALS. “Law schools are doing a lot that they weren’t doing in 1968,” Perdue said, while acknowledging that many of those changes have increased both the quality and cost of a law degree. ...
Chris Chapman, the president of the nonprofit AccessLex institute, said that law schools must plan for a future in which lawmakers rein in federal student loans, tamping down the spigot of loan funds into the academy. “It’s not a question of if, but when that subsidy will end,” Chapman said.