ABA panel formed to rethink legal education

New American Bar Association President Hilarie Bass will focus on redesigning legal education as one of her key priorities, and has created a commission of top legal educators and innovators to provide forward-thinking recommendations.

The 10-member Commission on the Future of Legal Education will explore several of the most critical issues in legal education, such as falling bar passage rates, a challenging employment environment for new lawyers and sliding LSAT scores for prospective law students.

The commission will seek the perspectives of various constituencies, including judges, deans, professors and practitioners.

“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” said Bass, who became ABA president after the conclusion of the ABA Annual Meeting earlier this month. “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 will be chaired by Patricia D. White, dean and professor of law at the University of Miami School of Law.

Other commission members include:

• David Faigman, chancellor and dean, University of California Hastings College of Law.

• Horacio E. Gutierrez, general counsel, Spotify.

• Gilliam Hadfield, director of the University of Southern California Center for Law and Social Science; the Richard L. and Antoinette Kirtland Professor of Law and professor of economics at USC.

• Andrew D. Hurwitz, judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

• Deborah Jones Merritt, the John Deaver Drinko-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law; courtesy professor of sociology; courtesy professor of public policy and management and associate faculty member in women’s studies, Ohio State University.

• Blake D. Morant, dean, George Washington University School of Law.

• David Stern, executive director, Equal Justice Works.

• David B. Wilkins, the Lester Kissel Professor of Law; director, Center on the Legal Profession; and vice dean for Global Initiatives on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School.

• Richard Susskind, author; chair, UK Civil Justice Council’s Advisory Group on Online Dispute Resolution; IT adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales; professorships at University of Oxford,
Gresham College and Strathclyde University; president of the Society for Computers and Law.

The commission will build on the ABA’s long-standing commitment to quality legal education.

This includes the work of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and its council, which is under contract with the U.S. Department of Education to serve as the national accreditor for U.S. legal education.

In a joint statement, Bass and the council’s incoming chair, Maureen O’Rourke, dean of Boston University School of Law, said the commission and the section “look forward to working together to ensure that legal education in this country provides the best possible preparation for the nation’s future lawyers.”