Legal Education Reconsidered

2016 James P. White Lecture on Legal Education

During the 2016 James P. White Lecture on Legal Education at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, AALS Executive Director Judith Areen discussed how legal education has been “reconsidered” by prospective students as the result of a challenging job market and negative media coverage. The lecture was published in the Indiana Law Review.

“Working together, deans and faculty, schools and organizations, we need not fear what will happen as others reconsider legal education,” Areen said. “Together we should be able to regain the confidence of qualified college students and graduates that law school is a good choice for someone who wants to make a difference during their professional career both in service to others, and in addressing some of the most intractable problems that face our communities, nation, and the world.”


The Market for Law Schools and their Graduates

The Demand for Legal Education: The Long View

Deborah M. Hussey Freeland, Research Fellow at the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, examines available data on the total number of law school applicants, including long-term economic and demographic trends in the demand for legal education.

Originally published in the Journal of Legal Education (Vol. 65, Issue 1) in August 2015.


Practice-Based Learning

Practice in the Academy: Creating “Practice Aware” Law Graduates

Jay Gary Finkelstein, corporate transactional Partner at DLA Piper LLP (U.S.), presents two practical solutions that will enhance traditional doctrinal courses, such as hiring practitioners to work with full-time faculty to develop practice-based curriculum offerings and providing interactive pedagogy that replicates the practice of law. Finkelstein serves on the adjunct law school faculties of at Stanford, Berkeley, Georgetown and Penn.
Originally published in the Journal of Legal Education (Vol. 64, Issue 4) in May 2015.


Learning Technologies in Legal Education

Law Schools and Technology: Where We Are and Where We Are Heading

Michele Pistone, Professor of Law at Villanova University School of Law, analyzes the conditions and trends that encourage greater use of learning technologies in legal education.
Originally published in the Journal of Legal Education (Vol. 64, Issue 4) in May 2015.


Support of Legal Services Corporation

AALS Letter in Support of Funding the Legal Services Corporation

Access to justice is at the core of our constitutional society. As Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell once wrote, “Equal justice under law is not merely a caption on the facade of the Supreme Court building; it is perhaps the most inspiring ideal of our society.”


Today’s Justice System and The Supreme Court

The Open Mind: Equal and Unequal Justice

Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow provides insight into the American justice system and legal education on PBS’ The Open Mind. During the discussion, she discusses race relations in the U.S., the need to support access to justice initiatives, and the role technology can play toward the pursuit of equal justice.


Supreme Court of the United States Decision on Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin

Supreme Court of the United States Decision on Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled (4-3) in Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin (Fisher II) that the University of Texas’ use of race as a consideration in the admissions process does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.


From Law Review to Common Sense

In Praise of Law Reviews (and Jargon-Filled, Academic Writing)

Cass R. Sunstein, Harvard Law School professor and former administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, outlines the value of law review articles, not just to academia or the legal profession, but to society as a whole. Though law review articles are often criticized as “jargon-filled” or “too-specialized,” he argues that many ideas constructed by legal scholars have made a significant impact, leading to what is now accepted as common sense by the public.


Statement from AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education on Proposed California Bar Admission Changes

Statement on the California Task Force on Admissions Regulation Recommendations (TFARR)

The Association of American Law Schools’ Section on Clinical Legal Education has issued a statement on the proposal by the Task Force on Admissions Regulation Recommendations (TFARR) of the State Bar of California to change the requirements for taking the California Bar Examination.


Statement from AALS Deans Steering Committee on Proposed California Bar Admission Changes

Statement on the California Task Force on Admissions Regulation Recommendations (TFARR)

The Steering Committee of the Association of American Law Schools’ Deans Forum has issued a statement on the proposal by the Task Force on Admissions Regulation Recommendations (TFARR) of the State Bar of California to change the requirements for taking the California Bar Examination.


Modern Legal Education and Law School Leadership

Law Schools and the Changing Environment of the Legal Profession

In a conversation with University of California Television, Daniel B. Rodriguez, 2014 AALS President and Dean, Northwestern University School of Law, discusses changes and innovations happening with American legal education and in the legal profession. He discusses the challenges that law schools face today and working with various constituency groups including alumni, state bar associations, and law firm leadership. In addition, Dean Rodriguez discusses refining the law school curriculum, cross-campus initiatives and engaging alumni throughout their careers.


Linking Law Schools and U.S. Domestic Policy Needs

How can law schools help address society’s greatest needs?

Peter B. Edelman, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy at Georgetown University Law Center, talks about the public policy choices that have been made regarding poverty, unemployment, race, immigration and gender issues in the United States and discusses the role law school clinics can play in addressing some of the country’s most pressing matters.

Professor Edelman’s talk served as the Keynote Address for the AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education – Leading the New Normal: Clinical Education at the Forefront of Change for the sessions on May 5, 2015 in Rancho Mirage, California.


Black Lawyers Matter

Why the U.S. needs black lawyers even more than it needs black police

In this opinion article for The Guardian, Yolanda Young, lawyer and founder of the website “On Being a Black Lawyer,” examines the importance of African Americans in the bar and the impact the lack of Black lawyers is having on the U.S. justice system.


Studies Point to an Improving Legal Industry in Key Areas

Law Schools and Industry Show Signs of Life, Despite Forecasts of Doom

In this New York Times piece, Steven Davidoff Solomon, professor of law at University of California, Berkeley, looks at the structural changes in legal education and the legal industry. He notes that recent studies have pointed to signs of optimism in the profession and the overall need for skilled lawyers is unlikely to change over time.


The Value of a Legal Education

Statement on the Value of a Legal Education

This statement was developed by the Deans Steering Committee of the Association of American Law Schools and concerns the critical role legal education plays in civil society and its progress. It is offered as a resource and, where appropriate, as a point of discussion to those interested in legal education.


Investing in a Legal Education

Financing a Legal Education

It pays for students who borrow to finance their legal education to familiarize themselves with all the tools available to manage debt, including a wide variety of repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs. The standard repayment period is 10 years but that may be extended. Some payments are tied to borrowers’ income and may be reduced for hardship cases, but not all types of loans are eligible for forgiveness and extensions.


History and Experiences of Women in Legal Education

Looking back at the challenges that women faced in joining the legal academy and profession in the mid-20th century

Professor Marina Angel, Temple Temple University Beasley School of Law interviews U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education’s Oral History Project.


Review of After the JD III, A Law Professor’s Take

After the JD III Reviewed

D. Benjamin Barros, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at Widener University Law School-Harrisburg, provides his thoughts on the findings in After the JD III: Third Results from a National Study of Legal Careers by The American Bar Foundation and the NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education.


From Theory to Practice

Theory Makes Successful Lawyering Possible

In this New York Law Journal column, Jeremy Paul, Dean of Northeastern University School of Law, highlights how the legal theory learned in law school, is crucial to success in practicing law.

Originally published in the New York Law Journal on April 21, 2014.


Law School Applications

Considering law school? Encouraging signs in the job market

Law school applications are still dropping and schools are downsizing in the wake of the Great Recession, but there are positive signs that the job market for law graduates is on the upswing with big firms leading the way, writes Daniel O. Bernstine, president of the Law School Admission Council. Even with higher tuitions and more borrowing, experts say the value of a law degree exceeds its cost by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Originally published in The Bar Examiner, Vol. 83, No. 2 (June 2014), pp. 12–19.


On Legal Scholarship

Why law professors’ scholarly research matters

Critics from the bench to the bar have complained that much legal scholarship serves little or no practical purpose and wastes law school resources. But Robin West and Danielle Citron show how it is often the work of scholars that breaks important ground on how laws are interpreted and enforced, from invoking the Civil Rights Act to stop sexual harassment in the workplace to embedding cost-benefit analysis into regulation and rule-making.


Who Benefits from a Cap on Federal Student Loans?

Bootleggers and Baptists in the Student Loan Debate

University of Maryland Law Professor Frank Pasquale describes the push to cap federal student loans as a move to benefit private lenders rather than reduce tuition costs for students. He likens advocates of the proposal to the bootlegger/baptist coalition of the Prohibition Era.

Originally published in the blog Balkinization (October 2015)


In Defense of Tenure

The risks of eviscerating tenure at ABA-accredited law schools

Former law school deans Robert A. Gorman and Elliott S. Milstein robustly defend tenure in a letter to the ABA Section on Legal Education and the Bar, which had proposed weakening or eliminating the tenure requirement for law school accreditation. The tenure system ensures that law professors can challenge powerful interests and propose changes in the justice system without fear of reprisals, they argue. Diluting tenure protection would likely “be an excuse for underpaying faculty (or) for running a school principally with part-time faculty.” Later in 2014, the Section decided not to change the tenure requirements in its standards.

See the Signatories