A Note from Our Co-Directors

A Note from Our Co-Directors
Rhode Center Co-Directors Nora Freeman Engstrom and David Freeman Engstrom

In joining the Center on the Legal Profession this year as Co-Directors, we continue to feel humbled and privileged. We are humbled at the work that has gone before and the steep challenge of following in Deborah Rhode’s footsteps, and we are so privileged to work on issues that matter, and to learn from so many on the cutting edge of defining how law is practiced—and how it should be practiced—in the modern age.

In this newsletter, we have shared excerpts of just a handful of the dozens of remembrances that flowed after Deborah’s tragic death, with more available online. In these touching tributes, you see the many and important roles that Deborah played for the people around her: inspiring teacher, transformative scholar, generous mentor, loyal friend. We’ll have a further chance to honor her legacy and remember her remarkable life with a series of panels on October 15th, and a Memorial Service on October 16th.

As you’ll see in the pages that follow, the CLP has accomplished a huge amount this year, despite the difficult transition and persistent public health challenges. We continue to play a central role driving forward efforts nationwide and in California to reform the regulation of legal services to promote innovation and access to justice. We’ve worked to strengthen legal education by engaging with the ABA on the incentives facing law schools, and we we’ve also focused inward, helping to make Stanford a model for training lawyers in the digital age. And we’ve focused—and will continue to focus—on key questions at the intersection of technology and law, exploring how technology will transform the civil justice system, with particular attention to ensuring that technology makes the system fairer and does not exacerbate existing problems of inequality and access.

We’ll be pursuing an even more ambitious agenda going forward, and so we’ll need help. To that end, we’re thrilled that our former Executive Director, Lucy Ricca, will be rejoining the Center as Director of Policy and Programs, and longtime Advisory Forum member Mark Chandler will join the Center as a Senior Fellow. We’re also thrilled that Shanin Specter and Alexandra Walsh—two of the nation’s very top trial lawyers—are joining the Advisory Forum to add their unique experiences and insight.

Next year, we will continue—and will continue to expand—on this critical work. Among other activities, Mark Chandler will lead an important project to simplify and unify filing requirements as a way to spur tech-based innovation in civil justice areas where self-represented litigants too often suffer acute access challenges. We will hold a conference with access-to-justice scholars and policymakers on legal services regulation. We will run a Policy Lab to answer pressing questions related to regulatory reform. We will bring together lawyers, judges and scholars to discuss urgent issues in multidistrict litigation, including how to improve the experience of individual litigants. And, in concert with the Federal Judicial Center, we will hold a workshop for federal judges on Artificial Intelligence and the law.

We are so grateful for all of you who continue to engage with, support, challenge, and strengthen our work, and we welcome your thoughts.

August 31, 2022
By Deborah L. Rhode Center on the Legal Profession
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