Legal Education Reform: New Regulations, Markets, and Competing Models of Supposed Deregulation


This invited article on the recent debates about the reform of legal education describes some of the ideas and projects that are in the air today, but the larger goal is to relate these proposals to issues of regulation and markets. The discussion necessarily goes beyond requirements for admission to the bar. Education generally — including legal education — has moved from a highly regulated market characterized by muted competition to a much less regulated market with vigorous competition. The question is whether we can expect more positive change today — fixing the so-called broken model — from the reform proposals now circulating or from the workings of the law school market that we have created over the past two or three decades. At this point, the article contends, the commitment to competition is too far advanced to make a return to the full regulation model effective. The second point is that reform projects often misunderstand the market. The competition to produce and publish legal scholarship is often deemed to be a search for status or even academic self-indulgence. The article contends that the scholarly competition is strongly in the overall interests in the legal field and in securing the place of law in the United States. “Reforms” designed to leave the scholarly competition to the high ranking schools do a disservice to the profession globally and locally.

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