April 11, 2013
The McGeorge Law Review hosted its annual symposium on April 5, 2013, examining "The State and Future of Legal Education."
Dean Francis J. Mootz III and the law review brought together academic leaders to provide an assessment about how to best prepare students for the emerging legal services market. The prestigious speakers discussed what law schools must do to provide real value to students who face an uncertain future in a changing legal market and economy. More than 120 McGeorge students attended the symposium, along with faculty and staff from several law schools.
The symposium presentations focused on legal education in terms of the services and value provided to students. Notably, while the number of applications for law school has steadily increased over the past decade, employment numbers for recent law school graduates have declined and fewer students have recently decided to pursue a legal education.
"We are in a time of profound structural realignment of legal practice, and legal education must adapt to prepare our students." said Dean Mootz. "Society has great unmet legal needs, and yet graduating law students find the job market to be very difficult. The solution requires a greater alignment with the practicing bar and a recalibration of legal education to best serve our students and their future clients."
McGeorge professors participated throughout the Symposium. Dean Mootz introduced the first panel, "What is the purpose of legal education?" Dean Kent Syverud, Washington University School of Law, presented "How will law schools embrace the changing legal environment?" during the first panel. Syverud is also the Chair of the ABA section on legal education. Professor Katherine Kruse, Hamline University School of Law presented 'Legal education and professional skills: myths and misunderstandings."
The second panel examined "How are we teaching students to think, act, and become lawyers?" McGeorge Professor Ruth Jones presented "Assessment and legal education," Professor John Osborn Jr., University of San Francisco School of Law, presented "Small steps to increase jobs for law students: the creation of the estate planning society at USF School of Law," and Professor Gerry Hess, Gonzaga University School of Law, presented "Blended courses in law school: the best of online and face-to-face learning?" during the second panel.
"Emerging proposals for the third year of law school," was the subject of the lunch presentation. Professor Michael Olivas, University of Houston School of Law, brought modern communication technology into the mix with his presentation "58,000 minutes: An essay on law majors and emerging proposals for the third year of law study," via Skype.
The final panel covered "The value of legal education in the face of high costs." New York University's Richard Matasar, presented "The canary in the coal mine: what the university can learn from legal education," and Professor Carrie Menkel-Meadow, UC Irvine School of Law, closed the symposium with her presentation, "The other things law students should be learning and doing."
The symposium was organized by Distinguished Professor Michael Vitiello and the I Chief Symposium Editor Jeff Dodd '13.
"The law review was thrilled to have such prominent legal education scholars lead us in this very important discussion and contribute their ideas on how to overcome certain challenges in legal education," said Dodd. "Their articles, which the law review will publish in the fall, will help provide a guide for faculty, administrators, and students as our law schools move through this very significant transitional period."
McGeorge professors J. Clark Kelso, Raquel Aldana, and Lawrence Levine moderated the panels. The symposium presenters will publish their papers in the Fall 2013 McGeorge Law Review.