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March 19, 2012

Four provocative suggestions for law school reform from Brian Leiter

I am not sure what prompted this new post at Brian Leiter's Law School Reports, titled "Four Changes to the Status Quo in Legal Education That Might Be Worth Something," but I think it is a post that is surely worth reading.  Here are highlights of Leiter's proposals:

1.  Higher education in America includes research universities and teaching colleges (the latter placing less emphasis on research); law schools need the same division of labor, so that we have some law schools that are Harvard and Chicago, and some law schools that are Oberlin and Reed.  How to bring it about is the really hard part, but changes to ABA accreditation rules could surely help....

2.  Judge Posner suggested some time ago that law school be shortened to two years, with a third year optional depending on a student's career goals. Those who want to be tax lawyers could do what is, in effect, the LLM in tax in the third year; those who want to be legal scholars could devote the third year either to cultivating scholarly skills or teaching skills, depending on their academic goals (per #1); those who haven't secured permanent employment after two years could use the third (at some appropriately reduced cost) in externships designed to enhance marketability, with some supervision from academic or clinical faculty; and so on....

3.  Cut the number of law reviews by 75%, and turn the remaining ones over to faculty supervision, with students still working on them, but no longer vested with editorial control....

4.  Finally, and no doubt most controversially, law schools need real tenure standards and real post-tenure review. Real tenure standards means law schools should deny tenure two or three times as often as they presently do, and on the basis of a genuine qualitative review of scholarship.  Post-tenure review -- say, once every ten years -- should operate within the current tenure framework, which means termination only for good cause....

Thoughts on this list?  Other suggestions or modifications of justified law school reforms?

Posted by DAB

March 19, 2012 in Law Reviews, Law School Management, The mission of law schools, The tenure process | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack