Legal Education at the Crossroads
The first word that comes to mind: Overwhelming. I'm here at the Legal Education at the Crossroads conference at UW in Seattle. There are about 200 people - law professors, deans, administrators from over a hundred institutions. There are over 90 presenters and most of the presentations are running multiple times so there are always many options. The next word that comes to mind: Exciting! This is what we dreamed of ten years ago and now it is happening. We've moved beyond the mavericks and pioneers and are teetering on the Tipping Point. Sessions are being taped for podcasting so you'll be able to hear them soon. Materials are already posted. Conference web site: http://files.law.washington.edu/open/Crossroads%5FConference/ The conference opened last night was a welcome from the interim dean of UW, Greg Hicks. He spoke about the intriguing notion of designing legal education toward a professional ethos based upon lives of consequence, service, and joy. The crowd nodded in alignment. Clearly, the choir is here. It used to be an ensemble but now we've got a full choir with many voices. After announcements from conference organizer (and genius), Debbie Maranville, keynoter Judith Wegner, one of the authors of the Carnegie report (Summary available at http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/files/elibrary/EducatingLawyers_summar...), spoke of "Facing and Embracing Change" and cautioned us about taking Carnegie as a formula. She set out commonplaces for legal education and encouraged us to use them in our own inquiries into the design of legal education: Developing Expertise: Mastery in a constantly changing area of sophisticated knowledge. Not only is black letter law changing, but the profession and culture are changing so we must constantly be responsive to these changes. Exercising Judgment: Professionals have to exercise judgment in the face of uncertainty. Being a lawyer is about 'domesticating doubt' and becoming comfortable with uncertainty. Learning from Experience: Practice, reflection, critique, observation, participation in a professional community with ethical standards and collective responsibility and a commitment to public service. The conference will continue through Sunday afternoon. We've set up some time to interview a few people and will post them on the site later.