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Law Center Launched On The Farm

Publication Date: 
February 06, 2009
The Stanford Daily
Julia Brownell

Professor Deborah L. Rhode and Dean Larry Kramer are quoted in The Stanford Daily in a piece about the newly opened Center on the Legal Profession:

Last week, the Law School announced the opening of its new Center on the Legal Profession (CLP). The center is the fourth such program in the country.

Deborah Rhode, Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law and the founding faculty member of CLP, said that the center “just made sense.”

“This is a time of enormous challenge and change in the legal profession,” she said. “Given Stanford’s research and teaching strength in this area…[CLP] could put Stanford at the forefront [of the field].”

The center will study the structure of the legal practice, focusing on everything from access to justice to legal workspace issues. CLP is the successor of the Keck Center on Legal Ethics and the Legal Profession, which Rhode also directed before its closing.


Larry Kramer, dean of the Stanford Law School and Richard E. Lang Professor of Law, added that CLP will hopefully encourage the study of a flawed profession.

“The model that has served to provide legal services for most of the past century is under pressure and may be breaking down,” he said. “Yet unlike other professions, the legal academy has not made understanding what is happening in and to its profession a focus of study. We hope to help change that.”

The center will also bring recognition to the Law School as a member of an elite group of schools with specific programs in this area.

“I think [CLP] will bring enormous praise and recognition,” Rhode said. “Stanford will become, along with Harvard, a leader in this field.”

The center will support research as well as classes. One example of the type of research that will occur, Rhode explained, includes a project students are currently working on about planning the first law school in Afghanistan. The country is desperately in need of lawyers because of its new constitution, yet currently there is no national avenue to train new lawyers. Students are currently working on structuring a new legal curriculum in a country with no existing structure.

“This is a path-breaking effort,” Rhode said.

The center will be funded by an initial three-year grant from the President and Provost’s office, and has just received its first outside grant.

“I’m guardedly optimistic that there’ll be more where that came from,” Rhode said.

Kramer saw more opportunities for funding from within the law community.

“If the center is a success, it should and will attract funding from within the profession,” he said. “No one has a larger stake in our work than those who deliver and provide legal services.”

Rhode also has hopes for alumni support.

“I think we’ll find our alumni more than willing to help keep [CLP] going,” she said.

The center will collaborate with other programs on campus on projects and events. It began its event calendar with its inaugural lecture from Aric Press, editor in chief of The American Lawyer, on the opportunities for change in the world of large law firms.

The center will attempt to reach out to the greater community with its events, especially on justice issues.

“Our programs will be open to the public,” Rhode said. “Issues of justice…hopefully won’t be of interest only to lawyers.”

More information on CLP can be found at