Hertz finishes term as chair of American Bar Association's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar

Randy Hertz, Professor of Clinical Law and director of clinical and advocacy programs, has just completed his term as chair of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which is recognized by the U.S Department of Education as the accrediting agency for law schools in the United States.

“A large part of the work of the section is accreditation work that is regularly ongoing,” Hertz said. “We are currently engaged in a comprehensive review of the standards. It is appropriate to step back periodically from the day-to-day issues that arise to think comprehensively about whether the standards are appropriate and accomplishing their objective of assuring a sound program of legal education that will prepare law school graduates to become effective members of the legal profession.”

In keeping with that goal, Hertz chaired the outcome measures committee, which recently issued its report. The report recommends that the section re-examine the current ABA accreditation standards and reframe them to reduce their reliance on input measures, or what students are taught, and adopt a greater reliance on outcome measures, or what students ultimately know and can do in practice.

To support this recommendation, the committee presented extensive information showing that a shift toward outcome measures is consistent with the latest and best thinking of American legal educators and legal educators in other countries and is also consistent with insights gleaned from legal practice and from accreditors in other fields of legal education. The committee’s recommendation has been referred to the Standards Review Committee with a specific directive to implement it.

Hertz also created a special committee on international issues, chaired by the Honorable Elizabeth Lacy, former chief justice of the Virginia Supreme Court. "The council and the section often need to address initiatives or proposals relating to international legal education, legal practice, and admission to practice,” Hertz said. “The creation of the special committee reflects the council’s conclusion that the time has come for the section to conduct a systematic examination of the section’s activities in these areas and to develop guidelines for the future.”

Additionally, Hertz created a special committee on the professional education continuum. “The new committee’s central purposes will be to: 1) contribute to the ongoing national discussion of legal education, bringing to bear the section’s unique perspective as an organization composed of academics, practitioners, judges, and bar examiners; and 2) serve as a resource for and consultant to section committees that are concerned with one or more of the segments of the professional education continuum,” Hertz said.

In reaction to the economic downturn, Hertz organized a special day-long retreat where the council of the section and representatives of its sibling organizations came together to discuss steps that might reduce the cost of legal education while maintaining quality; need vs. merit grants and their consequences; the new job market and its implications for future law school development efforts; and how to enhance, or at least maintain, diversity while under financial stress.

Hertz’s term ended on July 31, but he will remain on the section’s council as past chair for another year.

Posted on August 7, 2009