Room 402 at New York Law School is usually reserved for lectures about civil procedure. On Friday afternoon, though, Dean Richard Matasar introduced a different discussion topic to the crowded classroom: the need to change U.S. legal education — and to do it now.

“We’re here to put action into place,” Matasar said to an audience of about 75 law school deans, legal educators and lawyers. With more and more graduating students carrying hefty loan debts into a job market offering fewer options, Matasar told those who educate future lawyers that the time has come “to make our education more valuable … make our education more responsive” and go beyond “modest initiatives.”