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The End of Law Schools?

We've heard a good deal about legal futurist Richard Susskind's predictions for the future of the legal profession. But what about the future of legal education? Turns out that Susskind has some thoughts on that topic too, which he shared during yesterday's lecture at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Gene Koo, of Law School Innovation, live-blogged the event.

As we all know by know, Susskind believes that the law is headed away from customized service and toward commoditization, much of which Susskind believes will take place online. Firms will transition from using junior lawyers as profit centers and instead begin to outsource, offshore or automate many tasks previously performed by associates. (Koo wonders who will hire or train new lawyers under Susskind's model.)

So what does this mean for law schools? Already, law schools are the subject of much criticism for failing to provide students with practical experience in counseling clients or running a practice. But in Susskind's view, legal education is even less effective because it trains lawyers to be craftsmen at a time when that role is being phased out. Instead, to prepare students for the future, Susskind argues that law schools must focus on globalization and technology, and train students in other disciplines such as risk management, project management, legal knowledge management and "disruptive legal technologies."

Susskind's model sounds an awful lot like business school rather than law school. Or is that the point? After all, if we cede to business schools and MBAs responsibility for those tasks that will be important to our profession in the future, will we lawyers merely hasten our own demise?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 23, 2009 at 11:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)


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