Paul L. Caron

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Consensus Emerging That Law School Model 'Is Not Sustainable'

Future ed 

National Law Journal, Consensus Emerging That Law School Model 'Is Not Sustainable', by Karen Sloan:

What will legal education look like in five or 10 years?

It will be more internationally focused, rely more heavily on technology and will incorporate more leadership and businesses skills, if the influential group of about 100 educators and law leaders who met recently to discuss the matter are to be believed.

Those themes emerged during the two-day FutureEd 2 conference last weekend at Harvard Law School — the second in a series of three conferences sponsored by Harvard and New York Law School devoted to generating ideas and consensus about how to make legal education more relevant in light of the changing legal industry. ...

Despite all the interest in reforming and updating legal education, it's clear that building a consensus on change is difficult, given that different law schools have different missions, and educators and administrators have different priorities and interests. Some participants in the FutureEd conference focused on expanding the breadth of legal education and incorporating more elements, while others emphasized the need to make law degrees more affordable. Still other attendees highlighted the need for more ethics instruction, while another contingent stressed the need to better measure learning outcomes. Many agreed that there will be greater diversification and specialization among law schools in the future, particularly if the ABA adopts student learning outcome measures that require schools to define their individual missions.

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I agree with Publius. But when you look at attorney bios on the top 250 law firms, you can easily see what the industry places the most emphasis on. Until the unabashedly elitist firms "wise up," I doubt law schools are going to seriously respond to teaching application over theory.

Posted by: donna | Oct 22, 2010 9:12:44 AM

Ah, the real issue is there are too many law schools producing too many lawyers (I do enough consulting to know where lawyers' incomes are at).

Beyond that (seconding Publius) it would be nice if law students would look at actual contracts, actual deeds and other staples of legal practice.

And it would be valuable if anyone claiming to be a "business lawyer" or a "tax lawyer" would have at least one undergrad level accounting course.

Posted by: save_the_rustbelt | Oct 22, 2010 6:04:18 AM

>Consensus Emerging That Law School Model 'Is Not Sustainable'

Translation: The customers are finally wising up!

Posted by: AMTbuff | Oct 21, 2010 3:23:34 PM

At the outset, let me confess that I am one of those benighted lawyers who believes the purpose of a law school is to prepare reasonably bright individuals to practice law--not to teach law, not to write meaningless articles and tomes exploring the juncture of law and social policy. With that disclosure, most practicing lawyers, who are generally not consulted on these things, do not see a need for more of an international focus in legal education today or in the future. With the exception of a few megafirms, the vast majority of lawyers never see anything international in scope. What does our profession, and the public we are supposed to serve, really need? First, fewer law professors who lack any significant time in legal practice, fewer "interdisciplinary" law professors with Ph.D.s, and fewer law professors who spend way too much time writing esoteric, useless, and unread law review articles. Second, more skills training, on the model successfully promoted and used by NITA. Third, some kind of differentiated tracks for those intending to pursue transactional work, those intending to litigate, and those intending to engage a general practice. Fourth, more clinical education. None of these things will be considered in any serious way, because the people making the decisions are the aforementioned interdisciplinary, practice-challenged, law review-writing law professors, who lack the background, experience, or inclination to teach skills, practice tracks, or clinics.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Oct 21, 2010 11:02:06 AM