Law School Faculty Debates Major Reform

Its image has long been one of intransigence and aversion to change. But now Harvard Law School (HLS) is making a concerted effort to change its ways.

Since receiving the results of a study conducted last fall by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co, HLS professors have been discussing and defending their ideas for reform.

The faculty committees spearheading the reform made a proposal in the form of the 2000 Strategic Plan aimed at across-the-board changes from smaller classes and more debt relief to a more flexible grading curve.

The faculty has been voting on different aspects of the plan over the past month and hopes to have a final plan of action by the new year.

"I think there are a lot of significant changes here. Along with a certain amount of exhaustion, there's a collective sense of enthusiasm for the plan," says Daniel J. Meltzer '72, Story professor of law and chair of the steering committee of the strategic planning process.

Even in an era when HLS is no longer viewed as the cold, conservative institution depicted in films such as "The Paper Chase," the plan came as a significant change--and one that was a long time coming.

"I think the administration has known and cared in some sense about the quality of life at HLS for awhile, they just haven't know what to do about it," says Clint Hermes, a third year student at HLS.

Strategy of the Strategic Plan