The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education released its final report today. The Task Force considered issues relating to the structure and culture of law schools and recommends institutional and social changes in the delivery of legal education. The press release announcing the release of the final report is here. A PDF copy of the 41 page document is here.
I admit that I’ve only skimmed the report at this time. There are statements on faculty culture, the role of faculty scholarship and status within law schools, and the purpose of legal education. Here is one excerpt that addresses purpose:
Law schools, whatever their individual differences, have a basic societal role: to prepare individuals to provide legal and related services. Much of what the Task Force heard from recent graduates reflects a conviction that they received insufficient development of core competencies that make one an effective lawyer, particularly those relating to representation and service to clients.
The educational programs of a law school should be designed so that graduates will have (a) some competencies in delivering (b) some legal services. A graduate’s having some set of competencies in the delivery of law and related services, and not just some body of knowledge, is an essential outcome for any program of legal education. What particular set of competencies a school, through an educational program, should ensure is a matter for the school to determine. However, a law school’s judgment in this regard should be shaped in reference to: (a) the fact that most students attend law school desiring to practice law; (b) available studies of competencies sought by employers or considered broadly valuable for long-term professional success; and (c) the mission and strengths of the particular school. Further, whatever competencies a particular law school chooses to emphasize, the school should incorporate professionalism education into both doctrinal and experiential instruction.
Imagine that. A majority of students attend law school with the idea that they might practice law someday. I’ll have further comment on the report and the reactions to its recommendations in the coming days. – Mark