Legal Education: Crisis and Transformation


Legal education exists at the intersection of two powerful forces in America:  law and higher education.  As a result, it has long occupied a very high profile position in the U.S.  However, over the past few years, legal education has been facing a number of unprecedented challenges.  The job market for graduates has been quite weak since the “Great Recession” and financial crisis of 2008-09.  Applications to law schools have plummeted amid concerns about jobs and debt loads.  Hardly a week goes by without a story in a major publication about the crisis in legal education. How are law schools responding to this crisis and to the increasing calls for legal education to more adequately prepare students for the practice of law?  What do these developments indicate about higher education in general?

About Daniel B. Rodriguez

Daniel B. Rodriguez assumed his new role as dean and Harold Washington Professor at Northwestern Law on January 1, 2012. Prior to his appointment at Northwestern Law, Rodriguez served as Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law at the University of Texas from 2007 to 2011. While at Texas, he was also a professor of government (by courtesy) and a Research Fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Before joining the Texas faculty, Rodriguez served as Dean and Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law. He began his academic career at the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. In addition, he has been a visiting professor of law at Columbia University, University of Southern California, University of Illinois, and University of Virginia and also at the Free University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Rodriguez received his law degree from Harvard in 1987. His undergraduate degree is from the California State University of Long Beach, and he is a recipient of that school’s distinguished alumnus award. After graduating from law school, he clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

About David Yellen

David Yellen became Dean of the Loyola University Chicago School of Law in July 2005. Prior to joining Loyola, Dean Yellen was the Max Schmertz Distinguished Professor of Law at Hofstra University, located in Hempstead, New York. He also served as the Reuschlein Distinguished Visiting Professor at Villanova University School of Law and has also taught at Cornell Law School and New York Law School. From 2001-04, he served as the Dean of Hofstra Law School, where he played a critical role in spearheading major fundraising initiatives, doubling the school’s new student applications, and increasing the credentials of the law school’s incoming students.

Dean Yellen’s academic expertise lies in the area of criminal law, particularly sentencing and juvenile justice and he has written widely about the federal sentencing guidelines, testified before the United States Sentencing Commission, advised President Clinton’s transition team, and argued a case before the United States Supreme Court. He has co-authored a treatise on federal sentencing law, written articles about sentencing that have appeared in such journals as the Northwestern Law Review and Minnesota Law Review, practiced law in Washington, D.C., and served as counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. Dean Yellen is a graduate of Princeton University and Cornell Law School.

Dean Yellen is actively involved in a number of professional and civic groups. He serves on the Board of the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago, and is a member of the Standards Review Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section on Legal Education.

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