In 2012-13, the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta is celebrating its centenary. A remarkable hundred years of service to the profession and the public it has been. Our graduates have served the profession provincially, nationally and internationally; they have become academic lawyers in a host of law schools throughout the common law world; and they have staffed the judicial branch both here in Canada (The Right Honourable Beverly McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, is one of ours) and abroad.

Our Centenary Year will culminate with the two and a half day Conference, The Future of Law School, that will take place from Thursday evening 26 September through to the end of day Saturday 28 September 2013. This Conference is ideally timed to solicit a wide professional, judicial, academic and public response and to have a lasting legacy. Witness the 2007 Carnegie Report Educating Lawyers which issued strong criticism of professional legal education and which has had a profound and continuing impact throughout the common law world; the 2009 Federation of Law Societies of Canada's Report on the Common Law Degree in Canada; and the installation of the 2020 Consultation Panel by the UK Centre of Legal Education: the Law School and the Profession it supplies are being criticized from without and contested from within as never before and their futures are now, as never before, very much up for grabs. Indeed, it wouldn't be hyperbole to state that this unprecedented contest has risen to the status of a cultural war, within the law school and the profession and among the wider public, over the future of law school, of lawyers, and with that, of the law itself.

This Conference is dead set on contributing loudly and meaningfully to this cultural battle. It will bring together leading legal thinkers — Canadian and international, and academic, professional and judicial — to state the case against the present and for the future, before members of the common law legal community and before the public at large. The Future of Law School will be structured around the following four themes:

  • Foundations: Theories of Contemporary Professional Legal Education

  • Circumstances: Law Schools, Regulators, and the Market for Legal Services

  • Challenges: Reflecting Changes in the Practice of Law

  • Practices: Innovating the Content and Delivery of Legal Education

The Conference's legacy will reside primarily in kindling a passionate public and professional debate concerning what's wrong and what must be righted in professional legal education and with that, the profession of law. This legacy will take shape, in part, and linger in time, through the publication by the University of Alberta Press of an edited collection of Conference papers, presentations, debates, and decisions.