On the occasion of the Law School’s 100th anniversary in 1987, the Mitchell Lecture addressed the topic “Legal Education for a Changing Legal Profession.” Former Stanford Law School dean Bayless Manning and a panel of distinguished commentators discussed what appeared to be fundamental changes in the character of law practice – for example, a shift, in Manning’s words, from law as a “learned profession” to law as a “learned business” – and the implications of these changes for law schools and legal education.
Today, many observers say the legal profession is in a period of disruptive change. The emergence of global competition from legal service outsourcers, increasing domestic competition from non-lawyer professionals, paraprofessionals, and corporations such as LegalZoom, and advances in information technology, these observers argue, will transform the delivery of legal services.
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.
With these developments in mind, the Mitchell Lecture series for 2016 will revisit the topic “Legal Education for a Changing Legal Profession,” hosting two separate events.