Law 165 - Legal Education and the Legal Profession
Rachel F. Moran
J.D. Yale, 1981
This course will explore contemporary debates about legal education and the legal profession. Today, there is considerable controversy over the purpose and operation of law schools. Some critics argue that law schools are doing too much: there are too many law graduates and too many years of law study. Others contend that law schools are not doing enough: they are not graduating enough students from diverse backgrounds and are not offering enough skills training to prepare students for practice. These debates come against a backdrop of steep declines in law school applications, a drop that may necessitate rethinking the law school business model. That model has been blamed for steadily rising tuition and heavy student debt, although in fairness, there have been sharp increases in the cost of attendance throughout higher education. At the same time, there are many concerns about the health of the legal profession. “Big law” has experienced restructuring as corporate clients reduce legal costs by using in-house counsel and negotiating alternative billing arrangements with outside counsel. Across all sectors of the profession, new technologies and outsourcing are displacing lawyers and putting a squeeze on solo and small firms that serve clients with relatively modest means. For the most vulnerable, the access to justice gap persists, and it is now being addressed by offering self-help programs and new kinds of paraprofessional assistance. This course will allow us to explore what the future may hold for law schools and the practicing bar and what steps, if any, we might take to shape that future.
Course Specific Leaning Outcome:
This course will encourage students to reflect on the experience of legal education and to think proactively and creatively about their professional careers.