University of Denver

Predictions for Legal Education in 2012

Founding Executive Director

What are your predictions for legal education in 2012? Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez of Northwestern Law recently asked commenters for their predictions, and also made five of his own, including the need for law schools to seek alternative sources of funding, to provide more transparent employment data, and to act as public service incubators.

We have been talking about what 2012 might hold for law schools and legal educators (hint: we don’t think the conversation about legal education will be going away anytime soon), so I added this to the mix:

I predict that legal education in general and law schools in particular will continue to be under the microscope in 2012. Some of the criticism is appropriate, and Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers is one of the efforts designed to address that legitimate criticism. Some of it, however, is both projection and scapegoating. We live in a society in which institutions are on the decline in the eyes of the public. Many commentators regularly disparage lawyers and judges, and identify lawyers as the culprits for much of what is wrong in our society. Law schools incubate lawyers, and are thus prime targets for that negative energy. The challenge for legal educators in 2012 is to stand up for the importance of what law schools do, and the importance of lawyers in our world – while simultaneously becoming more innovative and more student-centered in the classrooms: in order to graduate knowledgeable students with practical skills and a keen sense of professional identity. So, the microscope will continue to magnify the problems in 2012; our challenge is to make sure that the attention is ultimately productive.

That’s my prediction for 2012. And our goal is to provide legal educators with the tools they need to bring innovation into their classrooms.

What do you think 2012 will hold?