Law Links - February 2016

Mitchell Lecture explores new realities in legal education and practice in two sessions

The rapidly changing legal profession, and how law schools can best train future lawyers to thrive in this new environment, will be the topics of a major two-part presentation at the School of Law.

The forum, collectively titled “Legal Education for a Changing Legal Profession,” will take place Feb. 12 and April 8 at UB, in John Lord O’Brian Hall on the University at Buffalo’s North Campus. It is presented as the 2016 Mitchell Lecture, the School of Law’s signature lecture series that since 1951 has brought distinguished legal scholars to speak on the most important issues in law.

Many observers say the legal profession is in a period of disruptive change. They cite the emergence of global competition from legal service outsourcers and increasing domestic competition from non-lawyer professionals, paraprofessionals and corporations such as LegalZoom, as well as advances in information technology. Others highlight new professional opportunities for lawyers to contribute the expertise needed to address complex social and economic challenges. Many are excited about new potential for professional leadership and creativity through increased diversity, global knowledge, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Law schools are scrambling to adapt to these fast-moving changes, in order to position their students to succeed in this changed environment for legal services.

The Mitchell Lecture presentations will explore this important topic in two sessions. The Feb. 12 event will look at the current status of the legal profession and how it is likely to change in the future. On April 8, panelists will discuss the implications of these changes for law schools and legal education.

Speakers for the Feb. 12 forum include:

Bryant Garth, Chancellor’s Professor at the University California-Irvine School of Law, who studies the legal profession, the sociology of law and globalization. Garth serves on the executive coordinating committee of the “After the J.D.” project, the first longitudinal study of the legal profession.

Gillian K. Hadfield, the Richard L. and Antoinette Schamoi Kirtland Professor of Law and professor of economics at the University of Southern California, whose scholarship includes the performance and regulation of legal markets and the legal profession.

David B. Wilkins, the Lester Kissel Professor of Law, vice dean for global initiatives on the legal profession, and faculty director of the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School.


At the April 8 presentation, speakers include:

Susan Carle, a professor of law and the Pauline Moore Ruyle Scholar at American University Washington College of Law, whose scholarly interests include the history and sociology of the legal profession.

Kevin R. Johnson, dean, Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law and a professor of Chicana/o studies at the University of California-Davis School of Law.


Michael Hunter Schwartz, dean and professor of law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Bowen School of Law, who has written 10 books on legal education reform.


The presentations by each panel will be followed by responses from commentators, both law faculty and practitioners. Commentators for Feb. 12 who will discuss how the legal profession is likely to change in the future include: Michael A. Battle '81, a Senior Partner at Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP; Douglas W. Dimitroff '89, a partner in Phillips Lytle LLP; and Ann E. Evanko '79, President and Managing Member of Hurwitz & Fine, P.C.

Commentators for April 8 who will discuss the implications of the changes in the profession for law schools and legal education include: Charles Patrick Ewing, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor of Law; Teresa A. Miller, UB Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion and Law Professor; and Monica Piga Wallace, Lecturer in Law, Legal Analysis, Writing and Research.

The Mitchell Lecture presentations are free and open to the public. Further information is available on the Mitchell Lecture website.

The Mitchell Lecture Series was endowed in 1950 by a gift from Lavinia A. Mitchell in memory of her husband, James McCormick Mitchell. An 1897 graduate of the School of Law, Mitchell later served as chairman of the Council of the University of Buffalo, which was then a private university. Justice Robert H. Jackson delivered the first Mitchell Lecture in 1951, titled “Wartime Security and Liberty Under Law.” The lecture was published that year in the first issue of the Buffalo Law Review.

Mitchell Lecture programs have brought many distinguished speakers to the law school. These have included Irene Khan, C. Edwin Baker, Derrick Bell, Barry Cushman, Carol Gilligan, Elizabeth Holtzman, Stewart Macaulay, Catharine McKinnon, Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Richard Posner and Clyde Summers.