Law School Deans: Predictions For 2014

For law schools, 2013 was a bit like 2008 for Wall Street.

Though getting a J.D. was once the beginning of a path to respectability and financial comfort, last year, many people–often law school graduates–called law schools out for leaving them jobless and deeply in debt. Countless articles questioned the viability (or morality) of law schools’  business models. With enrollment numbers looking grim, several schools began cutting incoming classes, tuition, and even faculties.

But it’s 2014 now. Perhaps a New Year is a semi-arbitrary marker of time, but it’s also an opportunity to reflect and make serious changes. To take a peek at what law schools have in store, we asked a trio of forward-looking deans to make three law school-related predictions for 2014. Their predictions are mostly optimistic–as one would suspect–and they tackle everything from curriculum reform to merit scholarships.

emorylawdeanEmory Law School Dean Robert Schapiro

1. Dramatic growth in degree programs for non-lawyers, such as our Juris Master program.

2. Employer-law school partnerships that reflect some of the qualities of medical residency programs.

3. Increased focus on interdisciplinary and experiential opportunities, especially outside of the traditional concentration on litigation, as in our intellectual property partnership with Georgia Tech and our transactional law program.

 

Dean Nick AllardBrooklyn Law School Dean Nicholas Allard

1. Ten years from now, people will look back at 2014 and say it marked the start of the new world of law, a renaissance where the respect and reputation of lawyers and law schools began to rise by measurable benchmarks (polls will show lawyers’ and law school popularity rising–not as fast as Pope Francis, but better than Congress). With apologies to Churchill, after several dark years, 2014 will not be the end, nor the beginning of the end, but rather the end of the beginning. It will take time, but 2014 will eventually be seen as the start of the “up” market for law.

2. For the first time in years, there will not be a double digit decline in the number of LSAT test takers and applicants, because it will become apparent that it is a great time to go to law schools that have strengthened their programs, and that there is actually a growing shortfall of good new lawyers in many expanding new fields where a JD is critically useful.

3. Law schools will finally begin to attack their irrational and inequitable business models by taking on the heretofore unmentioned elephant in the room: the huge amounts spent on merit scholarships, which drive up tuition paid by students who do not receive the scholarships. Expect this conversation to mount.

 

uchastingsfrankwuUC Hastings Dean Frank H. Wu

1. Great innovation in curriculum.

2. Leveling off of the applicant pool.

3. Many dean searches.

  • m

    Law school is a business, there goal should be to make money. Leaving the job of oversight of the legal profession or entry into the legal profession to the schools is irrational. The ABA is the at fault party. The ABA is still accrediting new law schools, while the market is so saturated mediocre grads drowning under the debt load they have incurred. The ABA needs to start revoking accreditation to schools who do not place 70% of there students in legal jobs. This does not mean that these schools cannot remain open, but the ABA should not back institutions that do not produce results. This process should continue until there are only 100 ABA approved schools. If a person chooses a non ABA approved school they would be on notice they may have a more difficult time gaining entry into the legal profession. Finally, the bar in is to easy. In most states 3/4 of the people sitting for the bar pass and the test is weighted, so you can do horrible as long as you are better than the bottom 25% you are good enough to be a lawyer.

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