Last week New York Law School and Harvard Law School co-hosted a conference looking at the future of legal education. The prevailing opinion of the two days was not complimentary to law schools.
The event has been written up at Above the Law:
- Corporate General Counsel Puts Fear of God into Legal Educators (And You Should Be Worried Too)
- Just How Crappy Is Legal Education Today?
James B. Levy at Legal Writing Prof Blog posted: The future of legal education conference: "Apocalypse now?".
From The National Law Journal: "Consensus: Law schools aren't changing fast enough."
And at The American Lawyer: "The Future of Legal Education: Get Real."
Law360 also weighed in: "Lawyers Reimagine Law Schools For Changing Market."
There is no shortage of commentary about the challenges facing American law schools. Driven by the Carnegie Foundation’s highly critical 2007 report and the dramatic downturn in large firm associate hiring, law school deans and administrators are scrambling to predict the future and position themselves within a rapidly changing market.
He blogged about the purpose of last week's conference and coming meetings:
New York Law School and Harvard Law School are hosting a year-long contest of ideas about legal education (website here). The goal is to come up with operational alternatives to the traditional law school business model and to identify concrete steps for the implementation of new designs. The kickoff event is a two-day conference for educators, employers, and regulators at New York Law School on April 9-10, 2010, to identify
problems, innovations and constraints, and to organize working groups to develop designs and strategies for implementation. Working groups will refine their ideas and reconvene for a second meeting at Harvard Law School on October 15-16, 2010. Final designs will be presented, with commentary, at New York Law School in April, 2011.
Will anything change as a result of these meetings? What do you think?
As I have blogged about before, many law schools are already making changes in curricula. For example in the San Francisco Bay Area: "Law schools adjust curricula to changing profession" (San Francisco Business Times). That article looks at efforts being made by my alma mater Santa Clara University Law. I blogged about what SCU Law is doing here: More about law schools adding practical skills to the curriculum. Read more about what Santa Clara is doing to help its students in this article "Law schools in Silicon Valley add practical skills to help students compete" (Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal).
From the article in Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal:
Local law schools are responding to marketplace realities by developing curriculum better suited to law firm needs. Universities are retooling their curriculum and incorporating management, leadership and specialized disciplines.
To that end, Santa Clara University Law school is relying on the Dean’s Legal Recruitment Advisory Board — an amalgamation of administrators, faculty and practicing alumni — to help determine the curriculum needed going forward to achieve this objective.
I will see Dean Donald Polden this week at a day-long meeting in Santa Clara, and will ask him for an update. I'll let you know what he says. He is a talented dean with a sincere concern for the law students at his school; I look forward to getting his perspective on the changing face of law schools.