Legal education is at a crossroads, again. Perhaps the more apt transportation metaphor is that legal education is stuck in a roundabout. Crossroads require introspection and decision-making. You can’t move past a crossroad without making an affirmative choice. Roundabouts provide the illusion of movement while keeping you in one place. But don’t be fooled; staying in the roundabout is still a choice.
2020 disrupted this lull. Amid a polarizing political climate, state-sanctioned violence, and the coronavirus pandemic, students said enough.They were right: Enough. Staying in the roundabout right now, choosing the status quo, might be expedient; but it’s also the wrong answer. After thirty-some-odd years of law review articles and conferences filled with “tipping-points,” “crossroads,” and “crises,” it’s time to make significant changes.
This essay argues that law schools must reimagine the pivotal 1L year. In contrast to the status quo, a reimagined 1L year would meet our students where they are now, not where they were (and who they were) one hundred years ago. To start this project, to move toward action-oriented change that actually builds an inclusive and equitable law school for all constituents, the first question isn’t what are we willing to add?—ABA requirements, trainings, book groups, committees, courses—but, what are we willing to give up?
This Essay argues that to prepare future lawyers to build a more equitable, inclusive, and just profession, law schools must first relinquish three things: the faculty caste system and the distinction between doctrine and skills that it reflects; high-stakes, summative exams; and the curve.
L. Danielle Tully, What Law Schools Should Leave Behind, 2022 ULR 837 (2022). https://doi.org/10.26054/0d-hdrt-5c61