Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Jason Dykstra (Idaho), Keeping up with a Kardashian: Shedding Legal Educations’ Vestigial Trade School Anxiety and Replacing the Dated Casebook Method with Modern Case-Based Learning, 48 Hofstra L. Rev. 81 (2019):
Kim Kardashian West’s choice to pursue her legal studies via a modernized version of apprenticeship rather than by attending law school represents an alarming vote of no-confidence in the efficacy of current legal education. Simply, legal education remains surprisingly and needlessly static despite decades of harsh criticism and the heightened velocity of change that has enveloped the legal industry. From big law to rural practitioners, the traditional law firm model proved ripe for disruption. This disruption is fueled by several discrete changes in how legal services are provided that cumulatively generated a substantial disruption across the board. They include technological advances that allow for the automation of many routine tasks and the dis-aggregation of legal services; enhanced client sophistication and cost-consciousness; global competition from offshoring routine legal services; the rise of the domestic gig economy, creating a new wave of home-shoring legal services; and competition from non-traditional legal services providers. This rapid-fire disruption curtailed both revenue growth in the legal sector and job opportunities for new attorneys. A large demographic bubble of baby boom attorneys further inhibited job opportunities and career growth for younger attorneys.
This article examines how a wave of disenfranchised law school graduates took to social media, spurring a critical commentary regarding the efficacy of current legal education, mounting student loan debt, and poor career prospects for recent graduates. This critical commentary contributed to a precipitous drop in law school applications, a reduction in tuition revenue, a subsequent wave of law school closures, but spurred only a few incremental changes to legal education. With legal education in dire need of revolutionary change, this Article traces the roots of legal education’s dated curricular focus and aversion to professional training. The Article proposes legal education shed its vestigial trade school anxiety and adopt a practical curriculum. The Article proposes replacing the dated Socratic casebook method of instruction with a new curriculum that melds components of a modern apprenticeship with case-based learning inspired by current medical school curricula.