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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Rodriguez: Legal Education As A Key Stakeholder In Legal Services Reform

Dan Rodriguez (Former Dean, Northwestern), Legal Education as a Key Stakeholder in Legal Services Reform:

Legal Evolution Logo (2021)The fierce and fascinating struggle underway in the American states over legal services reform brings to the table a large collection of interest groups.  These groups include law firms, legal aid organizations, entrepreneurs who might benefit financially from the liberalization of entry rules, and of course the gatekeeper entities, including state bar authorities and the state supreme courts, whose decisions are crucial to the evolution and shape of reform. …

What remains somewhat opaque in this robust and interconnected battle over the reform of legal services is the voice of legal educators and the law schools.  These are, after all, the places in which future lawyers are educated and professional values are instilled.  It is had to imagine a more fertile and opportune time to discuss the ambitions and philosophies of this next generation of legal professionals. …

However configured, law schools can certainly be valuable venues for deep and broad discussions about reform and, under the right conditions, places for discernible movements to emerge and flourish.  Yet, as we look over the battlefield in which stakeholder groups take strong positions, there is a still deeper question for legal education worth—that is, whether and to what extent our system of legal education has a significant stake in the outcomes of these battles? And just as important, on what side of these struggles ought law schools to be on? …

[L]aw schools are a key stakeholder in the debate over reform.  They We can engage in the conversation as institutions writ large; we can furnish models of education that will aid regulators and other decisionmakers in choices about how best to fashion solutions, whether in these so-called regulatory sandboxes or in other designs; and we can construct curricula and develop meaningful messages to current law students that will help in learning about structure, in its role and in its limits.  The ingenuity of legal educators is substantial, and while the incentives to make this a big priority are at most uneven and at worst wanting, we can and should push law schools to take a prominent seat at the table.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2021/11/rodriguez-legal-education-as-a-key-stakeholder-in-legal-services-reform.html

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