The only thing about which there seems to be a consensus is that American society, and the world, are facing unprecedented dangers. Climate change threatens the planet and all life on it. There has been a rise of authoritarian governments in many countries in the world. The events of late 2020 and early 2021, including on January 6, reveal the fragility of American democracy. The racial reckoning reminds us of the on-going deeply embedded racial inequalities in the United States. Tremendous inequities exist in terms of access to justice.
All of this affects the law and if there are to be solutions, they must include legal changes. What can law schools do to make a difference in these and other areas? In some areas, it might be rethinking how we educate tomorrow’s lawyers. In others, it might be new directions in scholarship. It could be law schools being the venue for convening thought-leaders. It almost certainly must include enhanced support for public service and pro bono work by students and faculty.
My hope is that the programs throughout the conference will focus on looking at what law schools can do to make a difference.