Academic Support at the Crossroads: From Minority Retention to Bar Prep and Beyond - Will Academic Support Change Legal Education or Itself Be Fundamentally Changed?
In 1982, Duncan Kennedy's essay on hierarchies in legal education appeared in the Journal of Legal Education and publicly recognized what many had acknowledged to be problems and gaps in contemporary legal education. At the time the article was written, academic support as an institution in legal education was in its infancy. Looking back at the development of the academic support movement demonstrates that, in many respects, it was designed to address at least some of the issues raised by Kennedy. This essay looks at the emergence of academic support in legal education in the context of Kennedy's article, examining the genesis of academic support programs, their development in the last two decades, possible future directions, and their implications for legal education and the broader legal profession. It concludes that academic support programs that focus on learning and empowering students to develop the skills to practice law in a complex and diverse society while developing positive, meaningful professional identities will become more central to the education mission of the law school and in so doing some of the existing hierarchies in legal education may be challenged and the issues raised by Duncan Kennedy positively addressed.