At Law Schools: The Times – Are They A-Changin’?

Regardless of your political persuasion, every election year affords us all the opportunity to take stock in our country and think about whether or not we are better off now than we were four years ago.  For me personally, it’s a necessary and welcome reminder to reflect.  While the campaign is long and arduous for sure, without the quadrennial barrage of “approved messages” I can’t say with certainty that I’d pause.

In the world of legal education, no such regular occurrence exists to encourage the academic leadership at schools to reflect on the direction of curriculum.  It often takes an extenuating circumstance (the legal current job climate perhaps?) to inspire some school to do just that.  Enter a likely candidate: New York University School of Law.

Last month, the New York Times showcased a planned third-year curriculum overhaul at NYU School of law, now enabling students – no, downright encouraging students – to more readily apply the learnings from their first two years through formalized foreign study, specialized concentrations or clinical/agency work.  (Notably, students will still have the alternative to choose a conventional course load.)  The move may pose more questions than it answers.  Are the available foreign study opportunities and concentrations too narrowly focused?  Should students be mandated to complete a more practice-based 3L curriculum?  Should students be required to attend a third year of law school at all?  At the very least, this evolves the learning model in a world where adhering to tradition is very much the norm.

Now the million dollar question: will other law schools follow suit?  Well, you won’t have to wait long for the answer.  As many of you know, each year we at Kaplan conduct our annual survey of law school admissions officers.  But this year for the first time, we’re hosting a live, online event to reveal the results.  We call it, our “1st Annual Law School Admissions Officer Survey Debrief” (appropo title, don’t ya think?) to be held onTuesday, November 27 at 8:30pm ET / 5:30pm PT.

We surveyed 123 law schools, including 16 of the top 25.  I’ll be joined by guests for the world of law school admissions as we reveal and discuss the results of the survey.  In addition to questions about the most important admissions factors and the growing use of social media in the process, we asked:

  • Are you reducing / have you made plans to reduce your incoming class size?
  • Are you making/have you made plans to make changes to your curriculum to make graduates more “practice ready”?
  • Do you think there are too many law schools in the United States?

The event is free to attend, but you must register in advance.  Registration is now open here..  I hope you join me.  It should be a very informative hour.