Thursday, January 3, 2019
Law.com, 'State of Legal Education is Excellent,' Says New Law School Association President:
The mood might be downright jovial this week when more than 2,200 legal academics convene in New Orleans for the Association of American Law School’s annual meeting—and not just due to Bourbon Street libations.
Unlike recent meetings, when the law professors grappled with why students were staying away in droves, this year educators can contemplate whether 2018′s eight-percent increase in law school applicants means the legal academy’s fortunes have turned. Law.com caught up with Harvard law professor Vicki Jackson, who will assume the association’s 2019 presidency, to discuss her goals for the coming year and law schools’ prospects. ...
What is the state of legal education today? It seems like a year of transition.
On the whole, I think the state of legal education is excellent. I want to talk about two aspects. First, we have thankfully seen rising interest. The applicant pool rose something like 8 percent, and enrollment rose something like 3 percent. These are both, I think, very good figures. Schools are proceeding in a prudent way in responding to that interest.
My second point is about the tremendous state of innovation, public service, and pro bono work that is going on in law schools across the country. This phenomenon is not limited to any one segment of institutions of legal education in this country. I see a wealth of innovation and commitment to pro bono work that reflects the immense change that legal education has undergone since I was in law school, which was the mid-1970s.
What is your presidential theme for the upcoming year?
My theme is something I care a lot about. “Pillars of Democracy: Law, Representation, and Knowledge.” I want to talk about the central role of lawyers in building and sustaining American constitutional democracy. From the founding, when there were a whole lot of lawyers at the Constitutional Convention and in the first Congress, through to the present time when you continue to see large numbers of lawyers serving in Congress, as president, and when you look at state governments. The three pillars I want to talk about: law, elections and a fair system of representation and what I call “knowledge institutions,” all face an array of challenges. They all need work from lawyers and law faculty to move forward in a healthy way in the future.