Predictions about legal education in 2012? I’ll open “comments” for this purpose. Civil, constructive, and non-anonymous, pretty please.
OK, I’ll start (although these are more hopes than predictions):
(1) From enrage to engage: We will see professional educators and lawyers working more thoughtfully to respond to the drumbeat of criticism about the structure of American legal education and its challenges. The truth, after all, lies between “it’s rotten all the way down” and “it’s the best of all possible worlds.” Engagement among stakeholders, the press, political officials, and the public is the logical next step.
(2) Constructive transparency: Many law schools, including ours, have responded to the reasonable pleas to communicate more detailed, useful information about placement. The focus will turn from what the law schools don’t do, to what they can and should do to inform prospective and current students in useful ways.
(3) Law schools as public service incubators: The demands of the public, and especially the poor, for legal services is ever growing. Law schools, public and private, big and small, national and regional, must and will develop mechanisms to serve the disadvantaged and to provide access to both basic and complex legal work.
(4) Costs, funding, and progress: The expense of providing first-class legal training can be expected to grow; tuition cannot continue to grow with it. Law schools need to seek alternative sources of funding. Without doubt, private philanthropy is required to sustain the initiatives befitting ambitious law schools in a modern economy.
(5) Give peace a chance: Understandably anxious, and occasionally antagonistic, current and ex-law students (along with an occasional law professor) have reached for the moral high ground by attacking law schools root-and-branch. But, there is a common interest in supporting the model of legal education that remains the envy of the world, while also engaging in constructive criticism. Maybe, just maybe, 2012 will see the replacement of scambloggers with rational, albeit hard-hitting, dialogue among the myriad stakeholders. All we are saying . . .