The Bologna Process and its Implications for U.S. Legal Education

Laurel Terry


Virtually all European countries are in the midst of a massive multi-year project intended to dramatically restructure higher education in Europe. This project, which is known as the Bologna Process or Sorbonne-Bologna, began less than ten years ago when four European Union (EU) countries signed a relatively vague agreement. The Bologna Process has now grown to forty-six countries, including all of the EU Member States and nineteen non-EU countries. The Bologna Process participants have agreed to form the European Higher Education Area or EHEA by 2010; among other goals, the EHEA is intended to help Europe better compete in the higher education field. Although a number of U.S. higher education organizations are familiar with the Bologna Process and its implications for the U.S., the U.S. legal education community does not appear to have paid particularly close attention to these developments. This article provides a brief history and overview of the Bologna Process, including its ten action lines and information about its effect on European legal education. The article then explains the implications of the Bologna Process for U.S. law schools, legal educators and administrators, and the AALS. This article recommends several concrete steps that the U.S. legal education community should take in response to these developments.