04 January 2009

NLU Faculty Meeting Part 2

A couple of additional reports at Saturday’s faculty meeting stood out. First, despite the current “precarious” economic conditions, Professor of Management Studies U.R. Daga reported that nearly 50% of May’s graduating class has been placed. He expects the rest to have jobs by the end of February because the Tata Group, Infosys, and other Indian corporations will have conducted on-campus interviews by then. One of the British mega-firms also will conduct an intensive all-day five-day capstone course for the fifth-year seniors in February. Since India does not yet permit non-Indian firms to have a formal presence here, I suspect this is planning for the day the Indian legal market opens. Alternatively, it’s to train Indian lawyers to handle outsourceable work.

Finally, Professor of Chemistry K.K. Banergee reported that a professor from the University of Taipei in Taiwan will teach a month-long upper-level IP course this spring. He also noted that planning is taking place to add a Ph.D. program in IP at NLU.

The significance of these final reports should not be missed. The days of the dominance of the American bar and the insularity of American legal education are numbered. We often hear grousing about the growing number of American law schools but the supply of up-and-coming lawyers in the world-wide competition for legal jobs is also increasing from abroad. And I can’t help but wonder how the highly analytic but unfocused nature of American legal education will stand up as its graduates are increasingly competing against those whose education and training permits value to be added to a firm’s practice much more quickly. The golden days of geometrically increasing American mega-firm profits from securitization and finance are over, at least for now--probably forever. For how much longer will large corporate clients be willing to pay highly-compensated associates to be trained on the job? Alternatively, how much longer will partners be willing to see their profits diluted for the same reason? And how much longer can American legal education get away with teaching so little substance? The next 20 years will tell.

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