Future Ed: New Business Models for U.S. and Global Legal Education, panel sessions 3 & 4

by Paul Maharg on 16/10/2010

Session 3 focused on the view from regulators — see the conference page at NYLS for a list of those taking part.  Stephen Zack, ABA President, was useful on the dilemmas faced by regulators.  But yr intrepid correspondent was beginning to pall at a full day of panel sessions, and excused himself from half of the next, on Globalization, Lawyers and Emerging Economies – A Theoretical Synthesis, to take a blustery walk around Harvard Yard.   This last session's topic is fascinating in itself, of the half that I caught, it was really a sociolegal/profession session on globalisation rather than a session on globalisation of/and legal education.

Later that evening over dinner Martha Minow gave a characteristically rich and well-pitched talk on legal education, referencing law school reform, Carnegie and Sesame St.  She listed some of what needed doing, warned against getting rid of what law schools did well (problem analysis).  No mention of the Sheldon & Krieger literature, eg?  Or the documented negative effects that law school has on our students?  She quoted Twining on the law school dilemma:

in all Western societies law schools are typically in a tug of war between three aspirations: to be accepted as full members of the community of higher learning; to be relatively detached, but nonetheless engaged, critics and censors of law in society; and to be service-institutions for a profession which is itself caught between noble ideals, lucrative service of powerful interests and unromantic cleaning up of society’s messes.

(Twining, W. (1982) The Benson report and legal education: a personal view, in: P.A. Thomas (ed.) Law in the Balance: Legal Services in the 1980s (Oxford, Robertson).

Which I also quote in my book, in the final chapter.  My next comment: 

Where might we start with this situation? A strong pragmatism would probably plan to start with the last phrase – with society’s messes.

Doubtful if she would agree with that Deweyan approach; but she was funny, gracious, and had actually taken the time to read the proposals that will be presented on the second day of the conference, which did impress me.   


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