In the New York Times, Erwin Chemerinsky and Carrie Menkel-Meadow offer a very sunny perspective on the current state of legal education. At the end, they argue that what law schools really need these days is curricular innovation:
Second, I don’t see how the listed “problem-based” seminars are supposed to help. What legal issues do students study in their Word Peace class, and how does expertise in World Peace help students get jobs? Presumably students aren’t expected to practice World Peace law. And I assume no one expects that two-credit seminars will actually create world peace.
Third, if the problem with law schools is that students need these courses but don’t take them now, then the answer is to mandate these courses rather than simply offer them. At most schools, almost everything after the first year is an elective. Merely adding new electives that most students won’t take is at best a symbolic answer to the alleged problem.
Finally, even if some students would benefit from taking these courses in their third year, that doesn’t answer whether all students should have to take them. Chemerinsky and Menkel-Meadow offer these suggestions in part to make the case for a third year of law school. But a lot of students are looking to practice in areas that don’t deal with the crucial issues of our time and don’t aim to solve global social problems. If those students would prefer not to pay another $50k in tuition to take those classes, why should the law schools mandate a third year of school just to give students an opportunity they don’t want?