Law convention sets future goals for U

Andrew Donohue

Greater respect for diversity and a global perspective will define the 21st century lawyer, according to guidelines set in a recent conference.
Law professors and deans from universities across the country convened for their annual meeting this month with their eyes on the next century.
The meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, which took place in San Francisco in early January, contained an entire spectrum of goals. Specifically, the law school of the next century should have a backbone of diverse students, better ethical grounding and a global outlook.
“I was satisfied that there was a will to broaden perspectives for the sake of the students and the future of the (American Bar Association),” said Richard Frase, a University criminal law professor who attended the meeting.
The meetings hosted 13 faculty members from the University, 10 of whom gave speeches. Speakers included E. Thomas Sullivan, the Law School dean, who gave a presentation during the antitrust and regulatory section of the conference.
“The meetings stressed greater use of technology and computers in legal research and teaching, which is something this institution has always been a leader in,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan also said the San Francisco convention placed an accent on international law faculty, an area the University also prides itself on.
Leaders of the conference stressed that strategic planning is overdue in most of the law schools across the country. Numerous attendees agreed that law schools have remained complacent during a time when many other university programs are gearing up for the next century and revising their programs.
Carol Chomsky, a University law professor who attended the conference, said part of preparations for the next century is incorporating global perspectives and bringing them into the classroom.
But international considerations are sometimes difficult to fit into the complex material of a single class, Frase said.
“I walked away with a renewed determination to make the changes that need to be done,” Frase said. Both Frase and Sullivan said the faculty were energized and inspired to do the hard work.
During the conference, some professors stepped out to protest in an event staged independent of the legal convention.
About 1,000 protestors stormed the streets of downtown San Francisco in a march supporting affirmative action. The march, led by San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, was organized by the Society of American Law Teachers.
“Supporting diversity and affirmative action in the classroom is part of seeing law schools to the end of the 20th century and bringing them responsibly into the 21st century,” Chomsky said.
“Diversity is a very important part of our law process,” Sullivan said. “We will continue to concentrate on the areas and skills that we think the lawyer of the 21st century will need.”