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Friday, January 4, 2013

Bloomberg Law's interview with Larry Mitchell

It's here.  I have zero doubt as to Dean Mitchell's sincerity.  He's obviously speaking from the heart.  But I still disagree with him.  There is every reason to avoid the "we're fine--there's nothing wrong with our current model of legal education" mindset--there is a disconnect between the number of law graduates and the number of available law jobs; law graduates are piling on the non-dischargeable debt to get their degrees, and several universities have been caught fudging some important numbers.

After Larry's op-ed came out, there were a lot of "you go!" emails from some of my colleague law deans on the ABA Deans' Listserv, and as I read them,* I got this sinking feeling that decanal groupthink was blocking us from realizing that legal education has serious problems.

Not all of the attacks on legal education are fair, but many of them are.  Read anything that Deborah Jones Merritt has written about legal education, and you'll get a well-reasoned view of the problems that we're facing.  And she's not the only one with an interesting approach to the issue.  Read Legal Whiteboard.  Read Bernie Burk's posts.  Read Bill Henderson's work. And there are others.  There's plenty of information out there to give all of us a feel for the problems that we're facing.

There's no need to scrap all of legal education, of course, but those who continue to maintain that things are "fine as they are" puzzle me.  It's far more interesting to think about how to adapt legal education to the changing world than it is to try to maintain the status quo

But bravo to Bloomberg Law for continuing this discussion.  My fantasy?  An open forum (in front of law students and hiring partners) where Lee Pacchia asks a lot of us some very pointed questions.

* I'm sure that, after I step down from being interim dean, some of my decanal colleagues will breathe a sigh of relief--I'll be off that listserv.

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