At Legal Whiteboard. Read the whole post, but here's how Bill begins it:
Earlier this week, I participated in the ABA Taskforce on the Future of Legal Education (see NLJ coverage here). Ordinarily when I am part of a deliberative meeting of a regulatory or accrediting body, I don't write about it, as it would be a breach of decorum and chill a candid exchange of views, at least prospectively. But this event was different -- it was webcast live and internet archived, and thus a public meeting. See ABA website.
These programs are laudable and, from an institutional perspective, necessary. But will an ABA taskforce, or AALS, LSAC, or some other industry group taskforce produce substantial change? History suggests that the answer is no and that, instead, meaningful change will come from the bottom up rather than the top down. Change will occur at the bottom from either the desire to survive or the opportunity to do something great. Other similarly situated institutions that feel less urgency or inspiration will eventually perish. It is just that simple.
My guess: outside-in and bottom-up for the most part. I say "outside-in" because, as we been covering here, we're seeing innovation driven by the New York judiciary, by Law School Transparency, by the inclusion of employment stats in the US News rankings, and by the new NLJ data on how many grads from each school end up in the largest 250 firms. The ABA is designed to lead from behind and the accreditation function at the ABA has long been captured by the schools (and especially by the middle and low ranked schools). While some schools will innovate around the edges and margins, the predominant approach will probably be something like, "hunker down, trim enrollment and costs, and ride out the storm." The odds are good that when the shrinking stops, law schools will look pretty much the same as they do today, only more expensive.