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Some big names in the law school world will convene in St. Louis on Oct. 26 to discuss how law schools should respond to the changing realities of the legal industry. Washington University in St. Louis School of Law will host “The Law School in the New Legal Environment” symposium, the latest in a series of conferences that law schools and legal education organizations have held on that topic during the past three years. Those meetings generally have had little problem diagnosing the problems facing legal education, including skyrocketing tuition and diminished job prospects for new lawyers. They have been less successful in identifying how law schools should change. Host dean Kent Syverud said the impending gathering would be different because the 210 attendees are influential decision-makers within the law school community and legal industry. A dozen law deans are slated to attend, as are an array of judges, managing partners, corporate counsel and university presidents. In addition to Syverud, chair of the American Bar Association’s Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the speakers will include Lauren Robel, president of the American Association of Law Schools and interim provost of Indiana University; and Daniel Bernstine, president of the Law School Admission Council. Attendees will also hear from Washington University professor Brian Tamanaha, author of the book Failing Law Schools, and Kyle McEntee, executive director of Law School Transparency, a nonprofit organization that has been instrumental in reforming the way law schools provide consumer information. Indiana University Maurer School of Law professor and legal industry expert BillHenderson will also speak, as will Andrew Puzder, a lawyer and chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc., which owns the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. chains. “The predominant view shared by students, practicing attorneys and lawmakers is that law schools are in denial about these challenges, and it’s time for law schools to make some serious changes to adjust to the new realities facing law graduates,” Syverud said. “This symposium will address how American law schools can embrace needed change rather than avoid it.” Panel discussions covering affordability, the future of law faculties, preparation for practice, job placement for graduates and online legal education are planned. The closing session will zero in on the five highest priorities for change within legal education. Those priorities will be decided through an online poll of attendees. “In my view, the changes we have seen thus far pale in comparison to the transformation in legal education that will be necessary in the coming years to help our students, the profession and the clients they serve,” Syverud said. Contact Karen Sloan at ksloan@alm.com.

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