MILLER: Those classes are open to everybody, but the bar-takers get first shot. Their
defining characteristic is none of them have
been taught out of a case book, and all of
them must be attentive to the theory-to-practice transition. If there is not a discussion
of clients, documents, decision making, and
processes, then it might be a fine class, but
not for this purpose.
AZAT: What makes this more than just a
benefit for a niche group?
MILLER: It is absolutely a benefit to the
whole school. In the most direct way for any
student taking these courses, it’s a course
they otherwise wouldn’t have had. But for
every member of the third-year class, they are
getting a detailed assessment that we hope
will be a personalized assessment, that we
hope will give them a tool that they otherwise would not have.
AZAT: So it’s not just bar-prep three months
MILLER: No. I can’t prove to you, at this
stage, that it’s wildly helpful for the students
or us. But I can tell you, it’s deep content.
There’s nothing vanilla.
AZAT: Is this part of a larger national shift?
MILLER: It is common among American
law schools right now to talk about a shift
toward experiential education. So for many
decades schools have been opening the door
to and understanding that students want
and should spend time with clients and
gathering facts and that there are kinds of
learning for which the classroom is not ide-
ally situated. But what’s happened in the last
decade or so is a recognition that the range
of methods and environments in which peo-
ple can learn in these concrete terms about
documents and clients and their needs are
built around simulations and documents. I
don’t know a law school that doesn’t talk in
some of these terms.
Differences arise in what each law school is
doing, and where are they emphasizing this
in the third year? Are they trying to integrate
it in the first year? Are they trying to create
mentoring relationships in the bar? Is it about
knowing a lawyer, or is it about working with
a lawyer or lawyers in the area that you want to
explore? And what kind of learning goes on?
So when you look at that next level, far
from there being a cookie cutter of law
schools, you see very rich variation. Our
February bar efforts, the pilot program
approved by the Court, is very much in
AZAT: Are there benefits to being a law
school affiliated with a large research univer-
sity, maybe in possible collaborations?
MILLER: There are many. It lends us a great
set of relationships. The perfect combination is being a small, personalized institution
at a major research university. And actually, a
science-based university is especially interesting, given so many of the issues in terms of
society—you know, intellectual property,
So having engineering on that side, and
then public health and medicine there and
business there, and then these incredible sciences, and a first-ranked philosophy department, incredible social sciences, anthropology. It’s a great place for the law school to be.
As one example, having a first-rate busi-
ness school next to a great law school, there
really are huge potentials.
AZAT: You’ve been quoted before as saying
you’re not someone who believes changes
occurring in law practice right now are cos-
AQ& Marc Miller James E. Rogers College of Law at U of A AZ AT
When I talk to our alums, they like being a lawyer. They’re proud of it. They like the profession.
metic and that it’s going to shift back.
MILLER: No, I think they’re structural
AZAT: So you also believe that law education
needs to structurally adapt?
MILLER: It has to, and our initiatives are consistent with that: the reconceptualization of the
third year, the increased globalization of our
student body, geographic boundaries as mattering less and less to the clients and their needs.
AZAT: Do alumni agree with the changes?
MILLER: Well, some alums say, “Hey, I’m,
I’m in Arizona. This is interesting, but it really hasn’t affected me.” An hour later in the
conversation, they’ll say, “You know what?
I’m wrong. It has. I just hadn’t focused on the
extent to which it affected me.”
AZAT: Are you fundamentally optimistic
about legal education and its relevance to
smart undergrads who are looking for what to
do with themselves?
MILLER: Yes. I think this is a great time to
become a lawyer, but I understand that is not
necessarily going to be a widely held view.
AZAT: But how does it remain relevant?
MILLER: As the economy comes back, I
don’t think we’re seeing a return in legal practice to older traditions—how clients are billed,
what they expect, how we organize legal
services, how businesses seek legal services.
There’s almost no dimension where technology, social changes, and globalization are not
shifting practice. We have to respond, and I
think we are. But if you have a fixed image of
what a lawyer is, this is probably not a good
time for you.
AZAT: That’s good for prospective students
MILLER: Yes. I do not hesitate to encourage
students. If I were a prospective student now,
I would want to go to law school, and I would
look at this change, this shift, as exciting and
as a huge opportunity. AZ AT