The Future Practice of Law
Edited by William van Caenegem and Mary Hiscock
Chapter 6: Legal education in the era of glocalisation: What makes for market failure?
Higher education is increasingly viewed, particularly in the United States, as a market approaching systemic failure. Legal education has been singled out as a subset of this overall trend, emblematic of a growing disconnect between investment and outcome. Internationalisation adds another layer of complexity and volatility to designing effective interventions that connect students with globalised opportunity. Crucially however, it also provides a chance for a rigorous re-evaluation of the purposes and modalities of legal education, and a greater reflection on sustainable growth rather than the reinforcing of bubble logic. In this chapter, I want to use the concept of market failure – and in particular, the theory of information asymmetry – as a critical methodology for constructing law faculties’ responses to internationalisation in both education and the legal services. The need to define the dynamics underlying the fundamental imbalances in American legal education have come into sharp relief in recent years, particularly with the publication of books such as Richard Susskind’s Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future and Steven J Harper’s The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis. The most commonly cited statistics from the US make for bracing reading: Nine months post-graduation, only 55 per cent of the 2011 class had long-term, full-time work that necessitated a law degree. In 2012, there were 68000 applications for 50000 law school places, and an eventual pool of 25000 available jobs.
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