Daniel Rodriguez

Daniel Rodriguez

Richard Susskind’s continuing jeremiad on future lawyering has been an enormously wise and far-sighted contribution to the dynamic debates on the legal profession and its evolution. And, although legal education is not the primary focus of this wide-ranging book, he does comment on the slow progress of law schools in educating lawyers for this new world and adds suggestions for what we might do better.

The critical exhortation is that law schools embrace the change of lawyer training from the development of traditional legal competencies best suited for the fraying model of a lawyer providing mainly “bespoke” legal services to new competencies that enhance young lawyers’ ability to provide value of as knowledge managers and even legal entrepreneurs. Susskind writes: “Are we preparing the next generation of lawyers to be more flexible, team-​based, technologically-​sophisticated, commercially astute, hybrid professionals . . .”

The answer is: Yes we are, but we are doing so within the constraints of both embedded academic culture and also heavy-handed regulation.

The cultural constraints largely emerge from visions and commitments of faculty members whose own education and professional training came from a different world and who fret that the conditions Susskind describes are passing fancies. Time and tenacious prodding and educating will help these constraints to wither away. Curricular reform in American law schools is actively underway. These initiatives include more focused business training, use of new technology in the classroom, exposure to big data, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics, all in the service of creating problem solvers who can and will think outside of the old professional silos. The multidisciplinary imperative of educating lawyers who can work at the intersection of law, business and technology is upon us, and law schools are meeting that challenge.

More problematic is the regime of regulation from the American Bar Association and other accrediting bodies and membership organizations. Law schools need to be diligent and deliberate in efforts to get the ABA to recalibrate its regulatory strategies to enable law schools to experiment, to innovative, and ultimately to develop curricula and programs which meet the imperatives of the modern workplace. Too, state bars need to be sources of encouragement for innovation, not protectionist barriers. Our commitments to educating tomorrow’s lawyers encounter today’s obstacles. However, the current generation of law school leaders is on task for fostering imaginative approaches to learning and to creating the practice proficiencies that this dynamic new world demands.

» Susskind on Legal Education: Reactions from Law School Leaders

Excerpted with permission from Tomorrow’s Lawyers by Richard Susskind. For more information, click here.