American jurisprudence is conservative by nature. Perhaps the most indicative of this conservatism is the rule of stare decisis which says – in simple terms – that if a judge decided a certain issue before in a certain way, then we need a very, very good reason to change whatever rule was laid down.

The American education system is no different. While Harvard Law School – long a pioneer in legal education – made a shift a few years ago to a more international focus under former dean and now-U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan, many of the pedagogical methods devised nearly a century and a half ago remain the standard at the 200 law schools around the United States.

But whether that education should remain the same is a contemporary topic of discussion. This debate stems in part from the fact that the legal profession itself – which has bled jobs for the last five years – is not sure how it can serve the public, what its newest members should be able to do, and how it relates to society.

In the last week alone, three articles touched on changes in the training required to become part of what the French observer of America’s early days of democracy, Alexis de Toqueville, famously called the “highest political class.”

“A Prescription for Law Schools: Go Back to the Basics, Return to ‘Terra Firma’ “

“What is Law School For?”

“Five Innovative Law School Programs”

“Study of Law Schools’ Job Placement Disclosures Raises a ‘Red Flag’ ”

Will all this debate translate into adjustments in law schools’ policies and practices, or will the tendency towards conservatism continue? How should law schools determine what adjustments would better prepare its students for the profession?

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