Friday, January 31, 2014

New York State Bar Association annual meeting addresses the future of legal education

Earlier this week in Manhattan at the Presidential Summit during the annual New York State Bar Association meeting, several speakers addressed the current "crisis" in legal education as reported by The New York Law Journal.  Among them was the new Chancellor of Syracuse University, law professor and legal educational expert Kent Syverud.

No Easy Answers for Challenges Facing Law Schools

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"We do not have a crisis in legal education," Kent Syverud told more than 400 lawyers attending the presidential summit at the New York State Bar Association's annual meeting at the New York Hilton Midtown in Manhattan.


Rather, Syverud said law schools experiencing a 20 percent average increase in expenses versus revenues face what he called a "management challenge" that should be embraced as an chance to produce better and more practice-ready graduates.


"It is not even an unusual management challenge," said Syverud, who was dean of Washington University School of Law before recently taking over at Syracuse last month. "The fact that it's unusual for American law schools to see this great a swing is interesting, but in almost every other sector of our economy, including legal services, it's a management challenge that's quite familiar."


He said many schools are "embracing" their financial troubles as an "opportunity to get better" and to take on "calcified practices" that have been hard to change in the past.


"Those that don't adjust are going to fail," he said. "That's a good thing, too. This is America. There is no constitutional right for you institution to continue forever without changing or evolving."


Syverud was on a panel on the future of legal education that was moderated by James Silkenat, the Sullivan & Worcester partner who is currently president of the American Bar Association.


Others on the panel were Jenny Rivera, a state Court of Appeals judge, and University of Maryland School of Law Dean Phoebe Haddon.

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