Summit on the Future of Legal Education and Entry to the Profession

A Summit on the Future of Legal Education and Entry to the Profession will be held at Florida International University College of Law,  this April 12th and 13th. The event is cosponsored by The Law School Admission Council.

Legal education and the profession are undergoing profound changes. Technology, globalization, and other forces are transforming law and legal services, changing the number and nature of jobs for law graduates. At the same time, these changes also bring significant opportunities to expand the roles lawyers play and the people they serve.

Interest in the law has rebounded after several years of reduced demand for legal education. This resurgence comes at an opportune time when millions of Americans have unmet legal needs, from criminal defense to civil litigation to the need for everyday legal documents. Yet, access to law school remains financially challenging for many potential students, with cost being cited as the leading barrier to entry. Cost is particularly a deterrent in a market with constrained job opportunities for new lawyers. Reduced public sector funding for legal services together with competitive pressures in the private bar that have reduced support for new lawyers has meant that graduates struggle to find work they can afford to do even though the access to justice gap grows ever wider.

This contradictory state of affairs – with a huge need for legal services but too few jobs for lawyers – presents an opportunity to rethink how we are building the justice pipeline. Each of the four points in that pipeline — admission to law school, legal education, bar licensure, and work in careers – must change to meet new realities. Most importantly, each of those areas must also change together so that they are well aligned. Otherwise, barriers at any one point will undermine the ability of law and legal institutions to serve society well.

The Summit on the Future of Legal Education and Entry to the Profession will explore how best to align law school admissions, legal education, bar requirements, and the practice of law. The Summit will bring together leaders from legal education and the profession for a timely conversation on the future of legal education and entry to the profession. The Summit will lay the groundwork for a broader conference, The Rule of Law in America, to be convened later this year by LSAC, which will bring together leaders from diverse sectors to assess the health of the rule of law and develop a blueprint for improvements. The Summit and the upcoming conference aim to be catalysts for change – change across the institutions of legal education and the profession, change that is necessary to meet the challenges of a society dominated by technology and globalization.

The two-day Summit will be of interest to those in legal education as well as to those who are responsible for the licensing of new lawyers. In addition to the formal program, the Summit will include numerous opportunities for informal interaction and discussion. The major topics and supporting panels will address:

  • Making the Case for the Role of Legal Education in the Legal Profession
    Explore the legal education value proposition, identify the challenges we face, and consider how to meet them.
  • Meeting the Needs of Society and the Market
    Address the current and future market for employment of law school graduates, and the need for lawyers in particular areas of practice.
  • Developing Sustainable Funding Models for Legal Education
    Consider the funding models and strategies for maintaining quality private and public institutions of legal learning and scholarship.
  • Addressing Law School Affordability and Access
    Address the affordability of law school for the diverse prospective student population, including law school scholarship policies and access to legal education.
  • A Conversation with ABA President, Hilarie Bass
    Dialogue on the many imperatives across legal education, entry to the profession, and the practice of law.
  • Taking an Integrated View of Legal Education and Licensure
    Address the current and future skill and competency requirements for the delivery of legal services in light of technology, globalization, and other forces that are transforming law and legal services.  Examine the respective roles of legal education and the bar examination to develop an integrated picture of how each might be adapted to prepare future lawyers for the practice of law.
  • Envisioning the Future of the Bar Examination and Entry to the Profession
    Consider how the profession would assess competency for admission to the bar if designing the mechanisms from scratch today.  Explore some of the key alternative examination and licensure models.

Panelists and speakers will include:

 

Hilarie Bass President, American Bar Association
Diane Bosse Chair, New York Board of Bar Examiners
Connie Brenton Senior Director Legal Operations, NetApp, Inc., and President and CEO of Corporate Legal Operations Consortium
Bernie Burk On Sabbatical. Former Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina School of Law
Grant Carwile Managing Director, SL Capital Strategies
Christopher P. Chapman President and CEO, AccessLex Institute
Barry Currier Managing Director, ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar
Fernando Garcia General Counsel, Government Affairs and Corporate Secretary, Nissan Canada, Inc.
Alli Gerkman Director of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, IAALS, The Institute for the Advancement of The American Legal System, at the University of Denver
Judith Gundersen President, National Conference of Bar Examiners
Joan Howarth Distinguished Visiting Professor, Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Dean Emerita and Professor of Law, Michigan State University
James Leipold Executive Director, National Association for Law Placement
Kyle McEntee Executive Director and Co-Founder, Law School Transparency
Cynthia Nance Dean Emeritus and Nathan G. Gordon Professor of Law, and Director of Pro Bono and Community Engagement, University of Arkansas School of Law
Scott Norberg Professor of Law, Florida International University College of Law
Jerome M. Organ Professor of Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law
Wendy C. Perdue Dean, University of Richmond School of Law and President, Association of American Law Schools
John Pierre Chancellor, Southern University Law Center
Daniel B. Rodriguez Dean, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
Stephen M. Sheppard Dean, St. Mary’s University School of Law
Jamienne S. Studley President, Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission
Aaron Taylor Executive Director, AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence
Kellye Testy President and CEO, Law School Admission Council
Kevin Washburn Dean-designate, University of Iowa College of Law, Chair, Law School Admission Council, and Member, LSAC Board of Trustees
Judith Wegner Dean and Burton Craig Professor of Law Emeritus, University of North Carolina, and principal investigator of the Carnegie Report on Educating Lawyers
Patricia D. White Dean, University of Miami School of Law and Chair, ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Education

SCHEDULE OF PANELS AND SPEAKERS

THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2018

8:30 a.m.                     Registration, Continental Breakfast and Coffee

9:00 a.m.                     Welcome and Introductions

9:15 a.m.                     Opening Panel: Making the Case for the Role of Legal Education in the Legal Profession

The heads of legal education’s six key organizations have unique vantage points on the value of legal education and the challenges facing it.  The leaders of the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education, Association of American Law Schools (AALS), National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), National Association for Law Placement (NALP), Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), and AccessLex Institute will appear together for a panel discussion of what changes in the profession mean for the future of legal education.  What is the value proposition of legal education in the legal profession?  What are the core values to which we all ascribe?  What are the major challenges facing legal education?  How will those challenges be met?  What are the roles of legal education’s major organizations in meeting the challenges?

Panelists:         Christopher P. Chapman, President and CEO, AccessLex Institute
Barry Currier, Managing Director, ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar
Judith Gundersen, President, NCBE
James Leipold, Executive Director, NALP
Wendy Perdue, President, AALS
Kevin Washburn, LSAC Board of Trustees

Moderator:      Daniel B. Rodriguez, Dean, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

11:00 a.m.                   Break

11:15 a.m.                   Meeting the Needs of Society and the Market

Notwithstanding the dramatic decline in law school enrollments over the past seven years, the number of law school graduates continues to significantly exceed the number of available entry-level bar-passage-required and J.D. advantage jobs.  At the same time, millions of citizens have unmet legal needs because they cannot afford the cost of legal services.  What does the future hold for law graduate employment?  Will there be growth or contraction in particular areas of legal employment?  Do we have a broad enough view of the law jobs of the future?  What, if anything, can individual schools, or the legal academy as a whole, do to help bridge the justice gap?  Should regulators do anything to respond to the changed environment, such as by adopting an employment rate accreditation standard or by tightening the bar passage standard?

Panelists:         Bernie Burk, On Sabbatical, former Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina School of Law
Fernando Garcia, General Counsel, Government Affairs and Corporate Secretary, Nissan Canada, Inc.
James Leipold, Executive Director, NALP
Scott F. Norberg, Professor of Law, Florida International University College of Law

Moderator:      Jerome M. Organ, Professor of Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law

12:30 p.m.                  Lunch

Remarks by Jamienne S. Studley, President, Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission

1:45 p.m.                    Developing Sustainable Funding Models for Legal Education

In a world where law graduates significantly outnumber available law jobs and entry-level salaries have declined in real terms, the value proposition of the law degree no longer holds for many law school graduates.  Further, it appears likely that the current Income Driven Repayment options for federal student loans, which have masked the decline in the value proposition, will become less generous, and that there will be greater reliance on private borrowing by students to finance their legal educations.  The federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program may be eliminated.  These emerging realities further complicate efforts to increase diversity and access to the profession.  At the same time, law schools have limited control over the cost of their programs.  How can law schools adapt their funding models to meet these new realities?

Panelists:         Grant Carwile, Managing Director, SL Capital Strategies
Christopher P. Chapman, President and CEO, AccessLex Institute
John Pierre, Chancellor, Southern University Law Center
Patricia D. White, Dean, University of Miami School of Law and Chair, ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Education

Moderator:      Wendy Perdue, Dean, University of Richmond School of Law and President, AALS

3:00 p.m.                    Break

3:15 p.m.                    Addressing Law School Affordability and Access

Stated tuition at most law schools is eye popping, as are graduate debt levels.  Increases in tuition and debt have greatly exceeded inflation.  However, stated tuition and published debt figures tell only part of the story.  What are the available data on tuition discounting and the impact of discounting policies on access to legal education and the profession?  What can individual law schools and legal education more broadly realistically do to reduce costs and address potential inequities in law school financial aid policies?

Panelists:         Kyle McEntee, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Law School Transparency
Jerry Organ, Professor of Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law
Jamienne S. Studley, President, Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission
Aaron Taylor, Executive Director, AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence

Moderator:      Scott F. Norberg, Professor of Law, Florida International University College of Law

4:30 p.m.                    Breakout Session: Considering Strategies to Reduce the Cost of, and Increase Access to, Legal Education and Entry to the Profession

Building on the preceding two panels, the breakout groups will consider strategies to reduce the cost of, and increase access to, legal education and entry to the profession.  Strategies may range from structural to operational.  Participants will be encouraged to think creatively as well as concretely.  At the conclusion of the breakout session, a reporter from each breakout group will summarize the group’s top two or three recommendations.

5:45 p.m.                    Reception and Dinner for all attendees (at FIU)

FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2018

8:00 a.m.                     Continental Breakfast and Coffee

8:30 a.m.                     A Conversation with Hilarie Bass, President, American Bar Association

ABA President Hilarie Bass has a long-standing interest in and commitment to legal education.  Improving legal education and the processes by which new lawyers enter the profession has been a central theme of her term as ABA President.  She appointed a Commission on the Future of Legal Education, which will make recommendations related to both education and licensure as an ABA Presidential Initiative through August of 2019.  Kellye Testy, LSAC President, will moderate this high-level conversation between President Bass and Summit participants about the challenges facing the profession as related to legal education and entry to the profession.

9:45 a.m.                     Break

10:00 a.m.                   Taking an Integrated View of Legal Education and Licensure

As the practice of law has changed in response to technological advances, globalization, economic pressures, and other forces, the knowledge, skills, values, and traits that legal employers seek in law graduates have diverged from what law schools have traditionally taught.  This panel will explore the implications of this gap and how law school curricula, law practice, and the bar exam can be better aligned.  What should remain of the core of law school curriculum, and where might the bar exam be changed?  If more time in law school is needed to address these matters, is the profession and are the licensing entities prepared to rethink the bar exam to make space in law school J.D. programs to respond to these concerns?

Panelists:         Connie Brenton, Senior Director Legal Operations, NetApp, Inc. and President and CEO, Corporate Legal Operations Consortium
Alli Gerkman, Director of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, IAALS, The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, at the University of Denver
Daniel B. Rodriguez, Dean, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
Stephen M. Sheppard, Dean, St. Mary’s University School of Law

Moderator:      Joan Howarth, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada Las Vegas, and Dean Emerita and Professor of Law, Michigan State University

11:15 a.m.                   Break

11:30 a.m.                   Envisioning The Future of the Bar Examination and Entry to the Profession

While bar admissions in the United States are handled separately by 50+ jurisdictions, the bar admissions authorities in all jurisdictions subscribe to two common essentials: that graduation from an ABA-approved law school qualifies a graduate to sit for the bar examination; and that the bar exam produced by the NCBE is the primary test by which competence for the practice of law is determined.  If we could have a clean slate, how would we assess competency for admission to the bar?  What would a bar exam look like if developments in technology, globalization, and other changes in the practice of law were taken into account?  Should the legal profession adopt a staged process for admission to the bar akin to that used in other professions? What are the potential alternative examination and licensure models?  What are the advantages and challenges to a model where more and more effort is being put on “teaching to the bar”? With 50+ separate bar admission authorities, how can these changes be accomplished?

Panelists:         Diane Bosse, Chair, New York Board of Bar Examiners
Judith Gundersen, President, NCBE
Joan Howarth, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada Las Vegas, and Dean Emerita and Professor of Law, Michigan State University
Judith Wegner, Dean and Burton Craig Professor of Law Emeritus, University of North Carolina, and principal investigator of the Carnegie Report on Educating Lawyers

Moderator:      Cynthia Nance, Dean Emeritus and Nathan G. Gordon Professor of Law, University of Arkansas School of Law

1:00 p.m.                    Summit Adjourns; Box Lunch

 

The Summit on the Future of Legal Education and Entry to the Profession is underway!

You can watch the livestream here: http://bit.ly/2GVEvul