There are a lot of people with unmet legal needs in the world because lawyers "won't let anybody else help them," Epps said.
And just as the legal community must realize that lawyers are not necessarily the only ones equipped to provide legal services, Minow said, law schools must recognize that "many law students are going in many different directions" after graduation, making it important for the curricula to walk the tightrope of offering more specialized legal education while still maintaining adequate breadth.
All of the panel members agreed that this was especially important for curricula for upperclassmen -- after the first year covers the basics, the second and third year must delve into the task of teaching students to understand, as Fitts put it, "how a substantive legal area actually works out there with people in the field."
Roger J. Dennis, dean of Drexel University's Earle Mack School of Law, said his school does this with a co-op program through which students are sent for unpaid, 18-week tenures working alongside law professionals ranging from solo practitioners to BigLaw attorneys to in-house lawyers and even judges.
The school, according to Dennis, also has a mandatory pro bono program designed to give students "a real opportunity to see how law counts in context."
Of course, all this real world experience for law students would prove useless if the economy were to make it so there were no jobs left in the law community upon graduation.
As one audience member asked: Are there too many lawyers?
But, according to Minow, the more appropriate question may be whether there are too many law students.
And the answer, in her opinion, is no.
Minow said that in countries like Japan, the number of law school graduates is much higher than the number of actual lawyers, which is "not necessarily a bad thing."
It may just mean there are opportunities for people with law training to bring that knowledge to other disciplines, she said.
MORE OR LESS
The panel seemed to be in agreement that law schools could one day be pressured to consider the possibility that three years of legal education may be either too much or not enough.
"I think we're all going to be forced to think about whether law school should be shortened to two years," Epps said, citing debt burdens as a major impetus for this discussion.
Minow said the case could be made for both shorter schooling that strictly covers the basics and longer schooling with extremely intensive, industry-specific legal training.
But Dennis wondered whether it might make more sense to consider shortening undergraduate requirements for prospective law students to, say, two years instead of four."Is it written in the Ten Commandments ... that students have to be BAs or BSs coming to law school?" he asked.