Monday, February 28, 2011

"The Future of Legal Ed" symposium: Laws schools must impart intellectual depth, make students practice-ready, and keep tuition reasonable

The big Future of Legal Ed conference sponsored by the Iowa Law Review wrapped up on Saturday (papers to be published).  Among the issues discussed, according to this summary from the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

  • More personalized, hands-on law school training costs gobs of money (see this post too).
  • Law faculties are generally conservative when it comes to curricular reform having little reason to change the way they've been doing things for decades. 
  • Training lawyers who plan to hang a shingle involves different curricular choices than training students to work for a large firm.  Law schools have done a decent job focusing on the latter; with respect to the former, not so much.
  • The ABA is presently studying ways to give law schools more curricular flexibility so schools can better respond to a profession that's changing at warp speed.
  • Yet schools must be careful to the extent they shift towards a more practical education that they don't short change traditional goals like cultivating a commitment to social justice

Meeting these challenges, according to Iowa Law Dean Gail B. Agrawal, will require educators to balance the following considerations:

"We need to prepare students to be client ready on Day 1 and have the intellectual foundations of a wise judge and the courage and commitment to take on the unpopular cause or client," she said. "And we have to do it in three years or less without increasing the cost of legal education."

That's all? Piece of cake.

You can read the rest of the CHE's coverage of the conference here.


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