Saturday, January 16, 2021
William J. Carney (Emory), Organizing a Business Law Department Within a Law School:
This article argues that legal education needs to get its act together by getting organized. Unlike the rest of the university, law schools are over a century behind in recognizing the need for the greater organization that departments can provide. Specialization, which did not exist many years ago, has become so universal that some members of any faculty either cannot understand or care about, much less govern wisely, what goes on around them. Ignorance is compounded by non-professional agendas driven by ideologies and interdisciplinary interests. One probable result of disorganization in legal education has been a decline in bar passage rates and enrollments. This article provides a road map to a cure.
The organization of higher education has changed, except at law schools. Concern has been expressed by bar associations, as in the MacRate Report, and in the Carnegie Foundation Report. Bar Examiners may have similar concerns. The bar exam passage rate for first time takers has declined from 82% to 72% for first time takers between 1973 and 2017. As tuition has risen, this makes legal education, with its distraction from the basics of professional education, a more risky investment for students. The Corona Virus Pandemic of 2020 coupled increased remote learning, and may lead students to reconsider law school. Any further decline in student revenues will increase law school budget pressures, which could motivate schools to consider serious changes. The choice may be to get organized or close the school.