Anyone with anything to say about the state of legal education: Here’s your chance to sound off. The task force the American Bar Association formed in August to examine the challenges facing law schools is asking for public input on questions ranging from how the cost of legal education hurts students and the legal profession, to what law schools should seek to achieve during the next 25 years. The 19-member Task Force on the Future of Legal Education also is moving up the time frame for completion of its work. The group originally was slated to issue its recommendations in spring 2014; now, it plans to submit that report in fall 2013. “It’s our view that the pressures on the profession and law schools are sufficiently serious that we needed to act more quickly,” said former Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard, chairman of the task force. “We hope to have a draft report in 10 or 11 months.” Shepard said the task force members are less interested in looking back, and more focused on concrete proposals. “We don’t want people to recite the current set of dilemmas,” Shepard said. “There is a Niagara of discourse on the problems—that’s been laid out in great detail. We’re hoping that people will write to us about the actions they think might be productive.” The task force isn’t only looking at what the ABA should do, but also at what law schools, universities, bar examiners and other actors might do. Thus far, the task force has split into two subcommittees, one concentrating on the cost and economics of legal education, the other on the regulation and delivery of legal education. The first subcommittee is seeking comments about the ways in which law school costs affect current and prospective students, faculty, universities, recent graduates, clients, the legal profession and society as a whole. The other subcommittee seeks comments regarding the goals law schools should adopt; student demographics; and how schools should be financed and accredited. The task force plans a series of meetings with parties including the Conference of Chief Justices and the Association of American Law Schools, Shepard said. Several public forums are in the works, with the first scheduled for February 9 during the ABA’s Mid-Year Meeting in Dallas.
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