MacCrate's Missed Opportunity: The MacCrate Report's Failure to Advance Professional Values

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Pearce, Russell G.
Pace Law Review
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The 1992 Report of the Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession: Narrowing the Gap (the “Task Force”), Legal Education Professional Development – An Educational Continuum (the “Report”), popularly known as the MacCrate Report, was the most ambitious effort to reform legal education in the past generation. Some commentators have described the Report as “the greatest proposed paradigm shift in legal education since Langdell envisioned legal education as the pursuit of legal science through the case method in the late 19th century.” Although the Report sought to promote education in both lawyering skills and values, its major influence has been in the area of lawyering skills. The Report has contributed little to promoting professional values. This result is not surprising. The Report’s treatment of values suffers two basic flaws. First, the text makes values a low priority and then does not explain them coherently. Second, the Task Force fails to consider that the dominant values of the bar and the academy oppose those of the Report. Despite these inherent flaws, the Report has succeeded somewhat in its goal of catalyzing reflection on values. While this reflection may yet yield important results, the Report’s contribution could have been far greater. It missed the opportunity to focus the bar and the academy on the major changes in practice and legal education necessary to promote the very values the Report expressly endorses. Footnotes omitted.