From the Dean
Pitt Law Pivots to Anticipate Change
For athletes, agility is the ability to change direction and position quickly and effectively in a coordinated and controlled fashion. They build agility by running, bending, jumping, and pivoting. Over time, the concept of agility has been adapted to businesses and organizations, coming to mean the organizational capability to adapt and respond, showing initiative in times of change and uncertainty.
Why is agility valuable? For both athletes and organizations, it’s essential in a situation that might catch one off balance or off guard, and that has certainly been the case for law schools over these past several years. In early 2008, prompted by the publication of the Carnegie Foundation report on legal education, a number of law schools began re-examining their curricula and approaches to legal education. The question then was whether traditional modes of legal education still sufficed to prepare new attorneys for a profession that increasingly demanded that they provide valuable service from the beginning of their careers and that presented increasingly complex ethical and business challenges. Of course, the massive dislocation in the legal -services marketplace that occurred following the meltdown of the financial markets and the recession that followed only magnified and complicated the challenges that law schools faced. These events threatened to catch law schools off -balance, unable to adapt and respond in a coordinated and effective fashion. All of a sudden, it seemed, agility mattered.
Pitt Law has gained agility thanks to the faculty’s willingness to adapt aspects of the School’s curriculum to respond to changes in the profession and the world. The Class of 2012 will be the first to graduate with each student having completed at least one course addressing aspects of international or comparative law. The Class of 2014 — this fall’s incoming 1Ls — will take two new courses during their first year: Legislation & Regulation, a class that will intro-duce students to the roles of legislative bodies and administrative agencies in law-making and law-application, complementing the first-year’s traditional emphasis on -common law reasoning, and Lawyering, an innovative -semester-long simulated client problem that will introduce students early on to a range of lawyering skills used in -context. Added to this, in the new Pitt Law Academy (see p. 17), our incoming 1Ls will hear directly from practicing attorneys and others using their JDs in a range of professional settings about the satisfaction and challenges of being an attorney and the diverse roles played by lawyers in society. The recent addition of the Innovation Practice Institute, the Immigration Law and Securities Arbitration clinics, and Pitt Law’s Semester in DC program also demonstrates our -agility. Each of these programs seeks to provide Pitt Law graduates with an edge — in terms of skills, mindset, contacts, or experience — as they begin their careers during what remains a very challenging job market. Our alums and friends in the community keep Pitt Law agile with both financial support and input to the faculty and staff’s discussions of how best to prepare and serve our students.
This magazine’s cover story asks a question we’ve heard frequently in the past few years — is law school worth it? — and provides a sense of how we at Pitt Law are working to make sure that a Pitt Law JD is a solid investment for a broad range of students. We’re doing our drills to make sure that we remain agile so we can respond as today’s and tomorrow’s challenges require. It’s not easy, but it feels good to “break a sweat” to make sure that tomorrow’s Pitt Law alums are well equipped to thrive in their chosen careers and to meet our society’s and the world’s continuing need for skillful and ethical attorneys. The challenge keeps us on our toes.