Building a Clear Strategy for Legal Education Reform: How an Exclusive Focus on Substance Undermines Systemic Change

Seattle Journal for Social Justice

37 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2010 Last revised: 16 Dec 2012

See all articles by Sara Rankin

Sara Rankin

Seattle University School of Law

Date Written: November 10, 2010

Abstract

Legal education reform efforts have persisted for over one hundred years, supported by substantive expertise, empirical data, cutting-edge curricula, and effective pedagogy. But today, the normative face of legal education remains essentially unchanged. If the substance behind legal education reform is valid, then what is the problem?

This article examines the stasis of legal education through the lens of historical reform efforts, political science, and contemporary organizational change theory. The author argues that legal education reform efforts are marginalized and have limited normative impact because reformers underestimate the strategic demands of systemic change. As a result, reformers have yet to build a coherent, collective strategy for the transformation of legal education. The author contends that reformers must shift from an exclusive focus on the substance of legal education reform to adopt a new focus on strategy. Finally, the author offers some starting points on how to begin a new strategic discussion on the transformation of legal education.

Keywords: Education Reform, Legal Education, Organizational Change Theory, Progressive Education, Change, Carnegie Report, McCrate Report

Suggested Citation

Rankin, Sara, Building a Clear Strategy for Legal Education Reform: How an Exclusive Focus on Substance Undermines Systemic Change (November 10, 2010). Seattle Journal for Social Justice. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1706537 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1706537

Sara Rankin (Contact Author)

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA n/a 98122-1090
United States

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