Recent high-profile incidents at law schools have raised questions about the scope of academic freedom for faculty and freedom of speech for students and faculty. At the suggestion of its Strategic Review Committee, the Council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which is the primary accreditor of American law schools, has put out for comment a proposed new accreditation standard, “Standard 208, Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression.”
As the Council describes the core concern behind the proposed standard: “Effective legal education and the development of the law require the free, robust, and uninhibited sharing of ideas reflecting a wide range of viewpoints. Becoming an effective advocate or counselor requires learning how to conduct candid and civil discourse in respectful disagreement with others while advancing reasoned and evidence-based arguments. Concerns about civility and mutual respect, however, do not justify barring discussion of ideas because they are controversial or even offensive or disagreeable to some.”
The Freedom of Thought Project has assembled a virtual panel to help illuminate discussion of various questions implicated by the proposed standard. Among other topics, the panel will consider the rationale for the standard put forward by the Council as well as the likely efficacy of the standard. It will also consider the role of accreditation standards in supporting freedom of thought at law schools.
Prof. Nicole Stelle Garnett, John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame Law School
Daniel R. Thies, Shareholder, Webber & Thies PC
Prof. Joshua Kleinfeld, Professor of Law, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
Moderator: Hon. Carlos G. Muñiz, Chief Justice, Florida Supreme Court