Professor Renee Newman Knake of Michigan State University and the ReInventLaw Lab has posted Democratizing Legal Education, forthcoming in Connecticut Law Review.
Here is the abstract:
Millions of Americans lack representation for their legal problems while thousands of lawyers are unemployed. Why? Commentators and academics offer a range of answers to this question, from economic factors to regulatory constraints. Whatever the root cause, clearly a massive delivery problem exists for personal legal services. Most individuals simply do not realize when a lawyer might be necessary or helpful. This Article, written at the invitation of the Connecticut Law Review for their Volume 45 Symposium entitled “Are Law School’s Passing the Bar? Examining the Demands and Limitations of the Legal Education Market,” suggests that democratizing legal education — i.e., systematically providing basic information about how to access legal services to the general public — offers a solution to the unmet need for those services, as well as to the unemployment crisis among the legal profession more broadly. Law schools have an important role to play in this effort. This article offers three recommendations.
The recommendations are:
First, law schools can fuel innovation in new markets and in methods for delivery, thereby leading to greater public awareness of legal services. Second, schools and regulators should work together to reduce the cost and time involved in training and licensing for lawyers who desire to engage in limited practice areas that are underserved, such as housing, domestic relations, and child custody. Third, law schools should educate the public about law, lawyers, and legal services through programs that also enhance student learning.