Crisis in Legal Education or the Other Things Law Students Should be Learning and Doing

Carrie Menkel-Meadow, UC Irvine School of Law


This essay reviews the recent criticisms of legal education (costs, loss of job opportunities, content of curricula) and suggests that law students might be better served by studying and learning different things in law school – not only conventional Socratic, doctrinal and even, adversarial clinical education, but organizational development, problem solving, decision making, group dynamics, dispute resolution and dispute system design. The article also contrasts two other professions – one newer (business consulting) and another about the same age (architecture) for more adaptable models of educational change and professional task definitions and realignments. Rather than continuing the “negative” critique of current forms of legal education, this essay suggests a slightly more optimistic course for why studying and practicing law, as a more broadly defined discipline, should still be attracting both students and faculty who care about making the world more just, fair, efficient, effective, and peaceful.