Friday, April 25, 2014
Beyond Elitism: Legal Education for the Public Good by George Critchlow.
The possibilities for legal education reform are endless once an institution has unshackled itself from elitist traditions, copycat curricula and cultures, and the belief that law schools exist primarily to serve the needs of affluent clients, students who want to be rich, and faculty who want protection from markets and the demands of practice. This article describes the confluence of historical and recent forces that make this a good time to reflect and act on the relationship between legal education and the availability of legal services to the ordinary public. We have an opportunity to reassess the assumptions and costs associated with years of copying an elitist model of legal education – a model that has neglected to train lawyers and other legal services providers to meet society’s substantial unmet legal needs. The article sketches out what a truly innovative, affordable, and public interest-minded law school might look like. It argues for a new definition of education excellence based on the ability of law schools to serve the interests of both students and the underserved public.