Legal Education

Search for new managing director of ABA legal ed section underway; Barry Currier: 'It has been a privilege'

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Barry Currier

Barry Currier.

Barry Currier, managing director of accreditation and legal education for the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, will be stepping down next summer, he announced in Syllabus, the section’s quarterly e-newsletter.

Currier has had the position since 2013, and before that he was the section’s interim consultant on legal education. When Syllabus announced his position in 2013, it was noted that the managing director title reflected an increased importance of the section’s regulatory role.

“It has been a privilege to have my job. Much has been accomplished, but the new managing director will find a full-to-overflowing plate of both day-to-day and longer-term important work to be done,” he wrote in a column for the newsletter’s summer 2019 issue, which also lists notice that a search for his replacement is underway.

Jeff Lewis, who chairs the section’s council and is a dean emeritus and a professor at St. Louis University School of Law, will chair the search committee, and the committee hopes to have a final candidate by February 2020, the notice states.

With Currier as the section’s managing director, its council has introduced more transparency with law school employment outcomes reporting, tightened law school accreditation standards and carried out a reorganization plan where the council absorbed the section’s accreditation and standards review committees. In his Syllabus column, Currier writes that the council’s recent work has been driven by the recession on legal education and significant changes for both the legal profession and higher education.

“The changes continue. Indeed, we are closer to the beginning, not the end, of the change cycle. We might prefer to catch our breath, digest what has been done, and assess next steps; but the need for change persists and there is no time to waste—we will be multitasking for the foreseeable future,” he wrote.

He noted that some of the “big picture, long-term” issues to be taken on next include how the ABA accreditation process can be improved to advance the quality of legal education and how to broaden access to it to “build a more inclusive, fair and just legal system.”

“Our current standards and practices were built for a different time, a different legal profession, and a different cohort of students,” Currier wrote. “At the end of the day, tweaking the current standards may not be sufficient or wise. Perhaps a new approach is needed.”

In a statement, Currier gave praise to his staff, the council and council committees, noting that he came to the job during turbulent times.

“In my view, the council and law schools must continue to develop programs to better serve their students and the legal services marketplace and the justice system where those students will work,” he wrote. “We must also better focus on the matter of cost, given job opportunities that graduates will have; be open to how technology can improve the student experience; figure out how to attract and graduate students who reflect the communities they will serve; and understand that the legal services market and higher education are increasingly global and figure out how and where U.S. legal education fits in the bigger picture.”

Hat tip to the TaxProf Blog.

Updated Aug. 7 at 5:09 p.m. to add the statement from Barry Currier.

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