The following ideas were submitted by participants In response to a call for topic suggestions for small group conversations. For simplicity, thematically-related ideas have been consolidated into headings on the meeting agenda. They’re included here in detail so that anyone and everyone can refer to them, rely on them, elaborate on them, and more.
My guess is that by 2050, virtual simulations will be well-established in experiential legal education. I’d be interested in hearing what people are doing now to try to simulate law practice, and tools, challenges, ethical concerns, etc. (We are in the early stages of building a virtual practice simulation as part of a professional master program for internationally-trained lawyers so this is top of mind these days. We also currently use simulated clients (real persons) and are working on collaborating with other organizations to build a pool of trained simulated clients for use in all types of scenarios. The clients enact a scenario but also are trained to provide feedback to the student.)
A break out that I would be interested in discussing is alternative financial models for legal education. What would a completely radical alternative (in 2050) look like?
The motivation for this comes from a concern that technological competence is a self-limiting conversation for imaginative curriculum, and one that risks under-emphasising the systemic potential/threat of newer legal technologies including code as rules and rules as code. These are not simply tools, but materialisations potentially of different forms of law/regulation. A conversation about these thus reaches into larger questions about access to justice, the future of the rule of law, and the forms of law (in a Fullerian sense), and how/where we locate these in the curriculum.
How can we strengthen or create incentives for law schools to provide an excellent education for 21st century lawyers?
I’d suggest a session about hyperflexiblity in legal education. How, within accreditor constraints, can we meet the demand for innovative forms of delivery that moves between modalities?
I also think a session on teaching problem-solving/leadership skills could be good.
Finally, I think it would be valuable to have a session on law schools collaborating.
1. In 2050, accreditation standards should focus solely on bar passage rate and a debt/average first year earnings ratio. The rest of the ABA accreditation apparatus should be disbanded.
2. In 2050, there either should be no exam or there should be a series of exams tied to subject matter, roughly like securities licenses. Either way, graduating from a leaner school such as (1) should be presumptive licensure. (Thanks, Wisconsin.)
3. UPL restrictions should become rebuttable presumptions against unlicensed practice, such that competent people can just do what they are doing subject to having to show they can do it. Goes double for high-volume software-based legal services.
Having safely put schools out of business, we can then turn to
4. Legitimacy is tough because it is so overused and diffuse, but I do feel the 2020 election proves that we cannot run all disputes through the legal system because it is too detached from truth. …. The profession obsesses on what we can do, which is largely process, rather than what people expect as an output, which is largely substance. The distance is dangerous.
I am interested in conversations we might have to think about how to bring law faculty/administration and state supreme courts together for innovation.
Idea 1: In addition to legal skills, what are the skills that will make the lawyer of tomorrow an “augmented lawyer”? What is the ideal mix between legal, soft, digital and business skills?
Idea 2: How to help young lawyers to project themselves in their professional development, in an environment that is changing faster and faster: to avoid being “stuck” in a practice, to move from the firm to the company and vice versa, to leave the bar to do a new job, and why not come back to it (circular career), to open up to related practices (e.g. forensics, compliance, etc.)?
Idea 3: How to put the lawyer in the algorithms, so that they are legal and ethical by design
When people feel they do not have access to justice what does that mean for their trust in law? When lawyers restrict access to justice (whether directly or indirectly), what is the implication for society?
As to Law 2050, my prediction is that additional layers in the legal services ecosystem will be well established by then. The question for law schools is whether they will be in or out? That is, will they change to teach for these new careers or lose that segment of the legal services industry to undergrad, continuing studies, professional studies, community colleges, etc. That’s the question they should be contemplating now. It will be difficult to unravel once the choice is made. And if law schools don’t make it, someone else will.
- the legal monopoly’s impact on public trust and confidence
- the role of consumer choice in designing new legal services providers
- state Supreme Courts and judicial complicity in the access to justice crisis
- integrating scalable legal services into legal education curriculum
- preventative dispute resolution (~ pre-filing dispute resolution)
- bias in human judging / judges
“How do we move from our deeply flawed credentials-based lawyer licensing system (expensive law degree, oppressive bar exam) and towards a competence-based licensing system that’s more defensible, accessible, and fair?”
And a related sub-question:
“Considering that such a shift could effectively decouple legal education from lawyer licensing — up to and including the possibility of dropping the law degree as a requirement for licensure — how should law schools engage with this issue institutionally?”
- The changing legal professional / the role of “non-lawyers” (though I’m not a fan of that word)
- Role of data in the law – data-driven decisions; ethical and other professional considerations; measuring value
- Legal technology – role of tech in the practice of law; what is coming in the future; curriculum
- Training lawyers to be business advisors