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“PittsburghsFutures” programming interrupts “Future Law” programming here from time to time. I’m motivated to do that in part by increasingly urgent questions about the future of cities, with Pittsburgh as prime and local example number one (an interest that goes back at least to 2004, via Pittsblog, and continues very recently in the Tribune Review). Pittsburgh legacy leaders’ endless obsession with making Pittsburgh important again drives me bonkers. I am all but certain that it irritates Pittsburgh’s emerging next generation leaders no end. Pittsburgh needs to bring different stories, different leadership, and different visions to the fore.…
Compentency-based education for professionals of all sorts is hot right now, and for good reasons. In a changing professional services environment, new professionals need every boost that they can get. This Summer, there are at least three *free* competency-based webinar series about to get under way: the “Passport to Practice” series, the CLI Corporate Legal Leaders Summer Webinar Series, and the Legal Tech Essentials Program at Bucerius Law School. The three programs have some interesting commonalities and intersections, in their offerings, in their organization, and in their ancestry. For practical purposes, those things are more easily…
The following was first published on Friday, May 9, 2020 in the “AALS News,” the newsletter of the Association of American Law Schools, under the section heading, “Faculty Perspectives: The ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Education.” Faculty Perspectives is an ongoing series in which AALS presents authored opinion articles from law faculty on a variety of issues important to legal education and the legal profession. Opinions expressed here are not necessarily the opinions of the Association of American Law Schools. If you would like to contribute to Faculty Perspectives or would like to offer a…
Almost ten years ago, I began writing occasionally about the future of legal education and the legal profession. Living and working in Pittsburgh, as I do, I was struck back then by possible parallels between the rise and demise of 20th century Steel, the American industry largely grown up in and centered on Pittsburgh’s enormous integrated steel mills, and the rise and threatened demise of the 20th century legal profession, largely grown up in and centered on large integrated law firms in downtowns around the country. Now, looking ahead 10 more years, I’m still wrestling with the law/Steel parallel, partly…
Just about two years ago, I posted a series of provocations that I titled, modestly, “An Invitation Regarding Law, Legal Education, and Imagining the Future.” You can read them as blog posts here. I later collected the posts, polished them, and posted the entire thing to SSRN, as an essay. It’s time to prime the pump. The basic themes of the invitation were and are three: One, the challenges and opportunities that beset/confront legal education are merely species of broader challenges and opportunities that beset/confront higher education. Two, different legal education “reform” conversations are unhelpfully siloed from one…
I wrote a series of posts about law school casebooks and what close readings of their origins and uses can tell us about things that can and cannot be changed about legal education, higher education, and more. Here are the links, all in one place: A New Paper Chase Hitting the Books The Strangelovian Law School, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Casebook Bye the Book Closing the Book
In this final installment of my occasional series on the past, present, and future of the law school casebook [first post here] [second post here] [third post here] [fourth post here], I’ll return to some crumbs that I left on the trail earlier, then take some swings at connecting them into some bigger payoffs.  A 360-degree tour of the casebook, as one of the most durable tools in higher education (really!), yields some possibly interesting ideas about the future of legal education generally – and maybe even higher education. First, let me…
This occasional series about the law school casebook, for decades the fundamental teaching unit of American law students and many law students elsewhere, makes the case that micro changes in pedagogical expectations – what we teach with, rather than what we teach – have the potential to open pathways to macro changes in institutional culture both in schools and in the broader profession.  Earlier posts have outlined the broad claim, explored the motivations and incentives that drive the persistence of the casebook model, and even defended the uses of casebooks from the point of view of both students and professors. …
In this series of posts about the law school casebook [first post here] [second post here], I’ve suggested that the casebook is both emblem and instrument of how the legal profession perpetuates itself as a field.  The obvious subtext is that I believe (along with others) that the profession is overdue for some substantial re-thinking and re-implementing, and that change begins at home. [Since this series began, the chorus of similar calls has gotten louder and louder.  See, for example, this post from Dan Rodriguez, “Toward evidence-based legal education reform: First, let’s experiment,” and…
My occasional series about the law school casebook continues. [First post here.] This is about the future of law, law practice, the legal profession, and legal (and higher) education, filtered through the lens of contemporary law’s most essential artifact, the teaching tool that unites every professor, every lawyer, every judge, and every student, regardless of field, in a shared experience.  The casebook. Law professors love to write things like “use this as a lens for that,” because it makes them feel and sound like their academic colleagues in other parts of the university.  “We’re researchers, too!,” we like…
This is about books.  It’s about legal education casebooks.  A lot of what follows comes out of my experience as a law professor and speaks to law schools and law students and the legal profession.  A lot of it dovetails with closely related questions about books and teaching and education in colleges and universities generally. But I’m not writing principally for the benefit of my faculty colleagues.  I’m writing principally for the benefit of practicing professionals, who often know little of the inner workings of their own educational systems, and also for the benefit of present and future students, who…
This post concludes a long response to a terrific recent piece by Mark Cohen, in which he critiqued law schools for failing to respond appropriately and systematically to an emerging “skills gap” between baseline legal education and the needs of the technology-dependent legal market. The first part of the response, from two weeks ago, agreed with the gist of the critique but introduced the idea that the critique opens a broader window on the relationship between legal education and the market for lawyers.  The second part of the response, from last week, explored the meanings of the…
This post continues a long response to a terrific recent piece by Mark Cohen, in which he critiqued law schools for failing to respond appropriately and systematically to an emerging “skills gap” between baseline legal education and the needs of the technology-dependent legal market. The first part of the response, from last week, agreed with the gist of the critique but introduced the idea that it opens a broader window on the relationship between legal education and market.  The end of the first part, and the beginning of this part, is this:  The law factory. It’s become fashionable in…