Association of American Law Schools (AALS)


Some realism on the regulatory reform movement


Imagine a legal sector neatly divided into two groups: the Rule Makers and the Risk Takers.  With evidence piling up that the legal market is not working for ordinary citizens, the Rule Makers come together to evaluate possible changes. After the new rules are enacted, the burden shifts to the Risk Takers to build out workable solutions.

If we apply this simple model to the US legal sector, it appears that the Rule Makers are struggling to deliver, as the most high-profile liberalization efforts at the state and national levels are now being shelved or slow-walked. See, e.g., Cheryl Miller, “California State Bar Puts Brakes on Proposed ‘Regulatory Sandbox,’” Am. Law., Mar. 13, 2020 (citing “political headwinds” as reason for tabling ATILS Task Force recommendations); Brenda Sapino Jeffreys, “ABA Approves Innovation Resolution, With Revisions to Limit Regulatory Changes,” Law.com, Feb. 17, 2020 (discussing passage of watered-down resolution that disavowed any changes to nonlawyer ownership or the unauthorized practice of law).
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Legal education is ripe for properly designed experiments. It’s time to get started.


In my last post, Legal Education is a Data Desert (096), I described the deficiencies in data available and mobilized on behalf of clear-eyed assessment of legal education outcomes.  While noting some conspicuous exceptions, I said that there’s simply not enough attention


Sometimes, to protect and promote the long-term interest of stakeholders, leaders have to take difficult public positions. The decision won’t be popular or clearly right at the time, yet the risks of deflecting or avoiding a firm stance are just too high, at least for the collective.  For legal education, one of the best examples of this type of leadership occurred in 2014 when Dan Rodriguez was serving as President of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).  
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