Are traditional academic law libraries doomed?

Hat tip to Out of the Jungle for James Milles’ Legal Education in Crisis, and Why Law Libraries are Doomed [SSRN]. Here’s the abstract

The dual crises facing legal education—the economic crisis affecting both the job market and the pool of law school applicants, and the crisis of confidence in the ability of law schools and the ABA accreditation process to meet the needs of lawyers or society at large—have undermined the case for not only the autonomy, but the very existence, of law school libraries as we have known them. Legal education in the United States is about to undergo a long-term contraction, and law libraries will be among the first to go. A few law schools may abandon the traditional law library completely. Some law schools will see their libraries whittled away bit by bit as they attempt to answer “the Yirka Question” in the face of shrinking resources, reexamined priorities, and university centralization. What choices individual schools make will largely be driven by how they play the status game.



  1. Although the Drexel Law program seems to be a non-starter …. maybe the Dean, years ago, was simply ahead of the curve when asking for a virtual law library?

    1. Jim, From what I have read the DLS program seems doomed on a cost/benefit basis. In the current market it looks like only the strong will survive. I think that many newer programs will fail. DLS looks like a likely candidate.

  2. Al, that could be. I don’t know enough about the financials of any law school to make predictions. That said, I think Deborah Merritt makes a good case that most university-connected law schools will contract, but few will close. The stand-alone law schools are probably the most at risk of closure (except for behemoths like Cooley).

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