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Transforming Legal Education as an Imperative in Todays World: Leadership and Curricular Change

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Document pages: 20 pages

Abstract: This article is a chapter in the new book, Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World (Deborah Maranville, Lisa Radtke Bliss, Carolyn Wilkes Kaas & Antoinette Sedillo Lopez eds., forthcoming Lexis 2015.) The article aims to identify and explore the emerging best practices for law school leaders in encouraging both individual and institution-wide reform. The authors identify and discuss the differing interests of the various stakeholders in legal education: students, faculty, university administrators, alumni and practitioners, potential clients, and society at large. They urge reformers to take the interests of the various stakeholders into account, obtain input from them, and set reform goals with their interests in mind. The authors discuss various models for engaging in the process of reform and some of the factors that will lead to sustainable change. They further describe the importance of reform being “data driven” and some of the processes that can be used to obtain helpful data. They urge reformers to be deliberative and collaborative and, at the same time, bold and timely by establishing clear timelines and deadlines for various steps in the process. The authors then discuss the most significant barriers to institutional and curricular reform, and how they can be overcome: the need for balance in teaching, scholarship and service of faculty members; concerns about academic freedom; cultural inertia and law school rankings; faculty fears about time, expertise and negative student reactions to change; and cost. Finally, the authors urge law school administrators to use incentives to enlist faculty as “change agents” and to expand teacher training programs to meet the new demands.

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