Democratization of higher education

In March 2012 I delivered a talk at TEDxVillanovaU about The Future of Higher Education, in which I spoke about how online learning can bring about a democratization of higher education.  Renee Knake of Michigan State has taken the idea further and applies it to legal education in her forthcoming article, Democratizing Legal Education.  Elizabeth Chambliss talks about the article, here.  

What do you think?  It is possible to democratize information about law and legal systems?  What are the barriers?  Who will be the gatekeepers?  What groups would want to see it happen and would they be willing to fund it?

3 Responses

  1. The concept of the “democratization” of legal education is an excellent one. I only write to add that making legal information available to the public is NOT a replacement for lawyers. As I stated in my forthcoming work regarding legal education reform, we have countless examples of well-educated, thoughtful non-lawyer advocates who are ultimately not able to get results for their clients due to their inability to represent a client in a forum where legal authority – usually in the form of a Judge – can actually Order opposing parties to behave a certain way. We can discuss, in another conversation, whether courts should be replaced by some alternative or whether non-lawyers should be permitted all the privileges of lawyers in a courtroom setting but for the moment, the ultimate ability to solve a legal problem – forcing a bank, for example, to comply with the law by not allowing them to enforce a predatory loan – rests with lawyers and courts. For this reason, “democratization of legal education” must include a plan to make lawyers available to those who cannot afford them – not just legal information. I worry that the well-justified enthusiasm for how technology can break down barriers and level playing fields will ultimately be used as an excuse by those in power to continue guarding the very best resources for themselves (which includes highly skilled lawyers) while simultaneously arguing that the poorest among us are being taken care of by the deluge of legal information available on the internet.

    My piece is available here: : http://ssrn.com/author=1896974.

  2. nice

  3. The larger issue in the legal industry is if the Bar Association actually have the right mission at all. Clearly the public should not hire a legal services professional that is incompetent, but what method should be used to ensure they don’t. Restriction of supply or a trustworthy source reporting on the quality of the professional? Instead of not allowing those who do not pass the bar to practice, what if the Bar Association just made bar exam scores public. What if they also had a site that allowed client comments and recommendations? The Bar should ensure the public is informed about the quality of the legal professionals working, but they should not restrict those who want to practice from doing so.

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