Legal education is in peril. The deepest root of this challenge reaches into the institutional design and culture of law schools. An explanation of this situation starts with the understanding that traditions of thought are fragile collective efforts, permanently under threat of collapsing along with the lives of those of the latest generation engaged in them. Unless those traditions are properly supported by institutions. In the case of the high traditions of legal thought, how well the institutions of contemporary legal academy provide support for them, and what is at stake in their possibly failing to do so? I argue that law schools fail to provide institutional home for the continuation and creative expansion of high legal thought, in the process failing themselves, those who come to them, and the long-term conditions of possibility of self-governance and justice in complex societies. The immediate cause of the failure to host legal thought is the prevailing structural bias of institutions of the legal academy in favor three interconnected attitudes: practicism, minimalism, and parochialism. Work on legal education explains the nature and effects of these attitudes before outlining specific proposals for the future of legal education.
N.B. The Open Letter is derived from Institutional Conditions of Contemporary Legal Thought.