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Stanford Law study to examine legal profession

In light of a changing legal industry, Stanford Law School will explore the changing state of the profession through a multi-year study backed by financial support from the Sidley Austin Foundation.

“The legal profession has changed profoundly in the last generation,” said Larry Kramer, law school dean, in a Dec. 9 press release.

The “Stanford Law School Study of the Legal Profession,” funded primarily by a $750,000 donation from the Foundation and Sidley partners who are alumni of Stanford Law School, will analyze emerging trends in law practice through data and other resources.

Stanford Law School is heading up a study on the changing state of the legal profession. (JIN ZHU/The Stanford Daily)

Over the three to five years expected for the study’s completion, Stanford Center on the Legal Profession will head the effort, adding contributions from Stanford Law faculty and alumni, the Graduate School of Business and a range of practicing attorneys, such as managing partners and in-house counsel.

The study will examine the structure and organization of firms, the effects of globalization and technology on law, billing trends, employee development, client expectations and other law-related issues. Researchers are interested in how developing trends affect not only the practice of law but also its study.

Kramer expects the study to “help redefine and improve legal practice and the legal profession and reshape legal education over the next generation.”

According to the press release, the study will emphasize empirical research, with the Law School to update its website as new findings become available.

Stanford launched the Center for the Legal Profession in 2008. In recent years, schools including Harvard Law School and Georgetown University Law Center have also opened centers to study the legal field.

Attributed to Ellen Huet

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