Law School Plans Reforms in wake of McKinsey Survey

A revamped grading system, smaller classes and more professors may

be the University's responses to a Harvard Law School (HLS) study conducted last year by the McKinsey consulting firm.

The results of the survey were far from flattering, as students and graduates criticized the school for its lack of focus on core educational issues--class size, faculty interaction and fair grading.

But while Law School administrators are listening to its student's complaints, its level of response is still unclear.

Dean of Faculty at the Law School Robert C. Clark says the McKinsey report, despite its negative tone, was no surprise to the HLS administration. He and his colleagues have had plans for reform in the works for several years, he says.

"Harvard Law School is the Queen Elizabeth--no one thing is going to change its direction," says Gottlieb Professor of Law Elizabeth Warren, who chairs the Institutional Life Committee (ILC), which deals with student life issues.

But even an ocean liner can change course, and in fall 1998, HLS launched the Strategic Planning Initiative (SPI) to chart the school's course in the coming years--a strategy Clark says incorporated improvement in student quality-of-life issues. The SPI is divided into five subcommittees, composed of professors, students and members of the administration.

But any significant changes will require more fundraising, administrators say, and the results of the McKinsey study should provide a persuasive argument for donors to reach once again into their pockets.