Sunday, March 25, 2012
The Legal Profession
“Globalization” is one of the most overused, yet ill-defined, terms used to describe changes to the legal profession over the past two decades. There has been an enormous increase in transnational trade and services and a resulting increase in demand for corporate legal services. However, the role that lawyers have played and should play in this process, besides being the investor or corporation’s best friend, is much less certain. This panel seeks answers to some of the lesser-asked questions about globalization and the legal profession: can and should legal services be truly global (extending to laws, jurisdiction, and bar memberships)? What effects does globalization have on lawyers working more than one step removed from economic globalization: domestic judges, activists, prosecutors? And, how should law schools “balance” the curricular demands of students who plan to work transnationally with the needs of the (current) majority who will still primarily work domestically? Should coursework on the legal profession and legal ethics and responsibility be updated to give greater consideration to the transnational?
Chair: GangQiao (John) Wang (SJD ’10), Associate, Ropes & Gray
John A. Burgess (JD ’76), Partner, WilmerHale
Chang-Fa Lo (SJD ‘89), Justice, Taiwan Constitutional Court
Robert Wai (SJD ‘00), Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
11:00 am–12:30 pm
Are Law Schools in Crisis? The New York Times Debate and its Discontents
Much dissatisfaction has been voiced in the media recently, including in a New York Times feature article series, with the current state of American legal education. A common allegation is that law schools are “in crisis.” However, there is little agreement on the most important elements of this “crisis,” their roots and their solutions. Senators and nonprofits have pressured the Department of Education to improve law school transparency, while others have questioned the regulatory effectiveness of the American Bar Association. Some commentators argue that the increasing number of law school graduates, as well as law school pedagogical methods, are out of step with recent changes to the global legal market, thereby exacerbating the access to justice problem. The content of legal scholarship has been criticized as irrelevant to law students’ needs and therefore unjustifiably funded by student tuition. Finally, the massive debt load borne by graduates is said to place an unjustifiable burden on the economy. This panel will unpack this purported “crisis” in legal education with a view to proposing concrete initiatives to respond to identified issues.
Chair: Heidi Matthews, S.J.D. Candidate, Harvard Law School Bryant Garth, Dean, Southwestern Law School; Co-Editor, Journal of Legal Education
Kyle McEntee, Co-founder and Executive Director, Law School Transparency
Lauren Kay Robel, President, Association of American Law Schools; Val Nolan Professor of Law, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President, Indiana University Bloomington
David Segal, Reporter, New York Times