The state of legal education has reached a tipping point, and the American Bar Association's new Task Force on the Future of Legal Education is now fielding suggestions on how to fix it.
A 19-member committee established in August seeks public comment on the field's most pressing questions: What problems does the high cost of a legal education cause for students, universities, and society at large? How can schools, governments, and other groups remedy those problems? And what should the goals of U.S. law schools be for the next 25 years?
The task force has already accelerated its timetable for publishing a report of its recommendations, said the group's chairman, former Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard. The report will now come out next fall (it was originally scheduled to come out in the spring of 2014).
Shepard called the discrepancy between the number of recent law school graduates and available jobs a "crisis" the field must act quickly to remedy.
"The imbalance is much more serious today than ever before," Shepard said. "One of the questions we have to ask is, is this permanent or more temporary?"
Representatives from the judiciary, bar groups, legal education and legal practice sit on the task force, which is divided into two subcommittees. One examines how schools teach and train future lawyers; law school accreditation; and demographics of student bodies. The other examines the financial cost of legal education and its ramifications.
Anyone may submit their suggestions via the ABA's website or by attending the task force's first public forum, to be held during the ABA's Mid-Year Meeting on Feb. 9 in Dallas.