Daniel H. Foote, Legal Education for the Future: Global Perspectives, Harvard Law School Program on the Legal Profession Blue Paper (2011), (originally published as The Future of Legal Education: Global Views, 3 UT (University of Tokyo) Soft Law Review 48-61 (2011)).
This is a report on "FutureEd 2: Making Global Lawyers for the 21st Century," a conference on legal education held at Harvard Law School (HLS) on October 15-16, 2010, In which this author had the opportunity to participate. The conference was the second In a series of three conferences jointly organized by HLS and New York Law School (NYLS). The first conference was held at NYLS in April 2010; the third and final conference was held at NYLS, in April 2011．The goals of the conferences were to stimulate thinking and research about the future of legal education; to promote concrete action plans aimed at Improving legal education; to provide a feedback mechanism for refining the action plans through the sharing of Ideas among knowledgeable participants; and to aid in the Implementation and spread of the most promising approaches. As explained by the chief organizers, Professor David Wilkins of HLS and Professor Elizabeth Chambliss of NYLS, the objective was not simply for legal academics to meet and discuss their Ideas but to achieve concrete results with the promise of broad Impact. The first conference in the series was designed to attract a wide range of promising reform proposals. This, the second conference, was designed to help refine the proposals and identify the most promising. By the time of the final conference, it was anticipated that the most promising proposals would have taken concrete shape and would either have entered or be ready to enter the Implementation phase, and while I did not have the good fortune to attend the third conference I understand this to be the case.
Interest in and expectations for the conferences were high, and the interest extended far beyond the United States. Well over 300 people contacted the organizers seeking to participate. Space and logistics made it impossible to accommodate them all, but over 100 people participated, and the level of the participants was impressive. In addition to the deans of HLS, NYLS and several other US law schools, law school deans from several other nations, including Brazil, India, and Israel, participated. They were joined by legal academics at the cutting edge of legal education reform from the US and many other nations, including nations in Europe, Asia, North and South America, and Africa.
Another notable feature of the conferences was that they were not limited to legal educators. To the contrary, a major goal was to bring a broad range of perspectives to bear on legal education reform. Recognizing that legal education today is Increasingly global In nature, the organizers consciously sought to incorporate the views of participants from outside the US, as mentioned above. The organizers also recognize that legal education is deeply affected by, and at the same time deeply affects, a wide range of actors. Accordingly, a central organizing theme was that legal education can and should learn from the experiences and insights of others. To that end, the organizers consclously sought to incorporate the views of regulators, clients, and other professions. Here again, the level of participants was impressive. Participants included the current president, the president elect, the immediate past president, and another former president of the American Bar Association (ABA), as well as ABA officials involved in the regulation of legal education, accreditation, and lawyer discipline. The head of the UK Legal Services Board and regulators from Canada also participated. From other professions, participants included the dean for medical education at Harvard Medical School, a Harvard Business School professor, and experts on the management consulting and advertising Industries. From the client perspective, representatlves of several major businesses also participated actively. Notably, this incredibly highly positioned group of participants did not simply make token appearances and then excuse themselves, citing other commitments. Rather, the vast majority participated actively from start to finish, over two long and very full days.