As we reach the end of the year, it’s time to step back and assess 2012 as it draws to a close. In the legal world, things have certainly changed from years past, but the one thing that remains constant is the focus on the state of our nation’s legal education. Something’s got to give, and while no one agrees exactly on what needs to change, many have influenced the way the discussion has developed with their insightful visions for the future.

At the end of the day, certain voices were more powerful than others. Whether through reducing class sizes or increasing the transparency of employment statistics, certain individuals have wrought substantial change in the way that law schools are currently operating — and have laid the groundwork for how law schools will be run in the future.

Whose words mattered most? Let’s take a look at this year’s most influential people in legal education….

Each year, the National Jurist requests nominations from law schools for their annual list of the Most Influential People in Legal Education. Here’s how the magazine received their candidates for this year’s title:

The magazine requested nominations from every law school in the nation, and received more than 85. Its editorial team narrowed the list down to 50 and then asked 350 people in legal education, including every law school dean, to rate each nominee based on how much they influenced them in the past 12 months.

The finalists will be published in order of influence in the January issue of National Jurist, but for now, the magazine has provided their names in alphabetical order. In all, 24 legal educators and one public policy advocate were selected as finalists. Of this year’s honorees, Jack Crittenden, editor in chief of the National Jurist, noted that “[i]t was surprising to see both the agitators and the establishment on the list.”

Agitators, you say? Don’t get too excited; none of your favorite Above the Law editors appear on this year’s list. Crittenden says that even though the rest of these pot-stirrers were criticized for their methods, “it is clear that those who spoke up about legal education were heard.” But who made the list as a finalist?

Here are some prominent names that stood out to us:

Paul Campos, Professor, University of Colorado Law School

Brian Tamanaha, Professor, Washington University School of Law

  • In 2012, Tamanaha released a well-received book entitled Failing Law Schools (affiliate link), in which he argues that law schools are in a state of crisis and proposes possible reforms.

Kyle McEntee, Executive Director and Co-founder, Law School Transparency

  • McEntee essentially started the call for transparency in law school employment information when he co-founded Law School Transparency with classmate Patrick Lynch. McEntee was named Above the Law’s 2010 Lawyer of the Year, and an ABA Journal Legal Rebel in 2012.

Frank H. Wu, Chancellor & Dean, University of California, Hastings College of the Law

  • Dean Wu was one of the first deans to make the case against huge law school class sizes in this challenging job market. Under Wu’s leadership, UC Hastings Law will be reducing its enrollment by 20 percent over the next three years an an effort to “reboot” legal education.

For the full list, head over to National Jurist. Do you see anyone on the list you think is undeserving of the title? Or perhaps someone’s been excluded whom you view as worthy of mention? Feel free to make your voice heard and let us know in the comments.

25 Finalists Named to Most Influential in Legal Education [National Jurist]


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