Bar Association Task Force to Rethink Legal Education

With its new Commission on the Future of Legal Education, the American Bar Association plans to analyze whether the current law school approaches are working for students.

With a new task force, the American Bar Association is taking on some of the legal world’s biggest educational challenges headfirst.

The Commission on the Future of Legal Education, announced this week by new ABA President Hilarie Bass, will examine critical issues in legal education, particularly trends like declining Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores, lower bar passage rates, and a difficult job market.

“The ABA is a unique position to work with the various stakeholders, such as bar examiners, legal academics, and bar leaders, interested in training future lawyers,” Bass said in a news release. “Through the Commission on the Future of Legal Education, we will enhance our leadership role in anticipating, articulating, and influencing dramatic changes in the legal profession and their effect on legal education.”

The commission includes top higher-education officials, including deans from three law schools, and a U.S. appeals court judge. Other members come from outside the legal world, including British author Richard Susskind and Spotify General Counsel Horacio E. Gutierrez.

The new commission reflects challenges for the legal education sector. For one: Earlier this year, the Law School Admission Council changed some LSAT rules, particularly those involving how often the test is offered, after a handful of law schools announced they would accept the GRE instead.

Other concerns have arisen around education and employment. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education retroactively denied student loan forgiveness to former law students who had chosen careers in public service. ABA sued the agency for failing to honor agreements made under the program, launched during the George W. Bush administration.

Bass, who became ABA president at the end of the association’s annual meeting on Tuesday, and ABA Council Chairwoman Maureen O’Rourke, the dean of Boston University’s law school, said in a statement [PDF]  that the council would “explore possible changes to methods of training and testing the future generations of law students.”

(ytwong/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!