I've been in this biz long enough to see some remarkable changes in the academy. For instance, the academy veered surprisingly quickly towards the importance of writing in the late 1990s. So this gives me a sense that things may change--even as US News peer assessment rankings remain remarkably static, at least for elite law schools.
So let me make a couple of predictions of what we may see in the near future (not saying this is what I want to happen, just saying these have some possibility of happening):
(1) perhaps the academy's going to swing back more towards teaching. Don't be surprised by that, anyway, given our consumer culture.
(2) doctrinal scholarship may make a comeback. A whole generation has passed since that was hot; we need the next Farnsworth, a new generation of Stoebucks and Whitmans and Powells.
(3) books are already increasing in importance and will continue to do so.
(4) lateral hiring, which has been on the up-swing of late, may slow down, at least at schools outside of the elite (top 20 or so). The reasons why I think this deserve a post all their own and believe me, they'll get it.
(5) course loads may start to go back up at all but the elite schools (this is closely related to #1, obviously).
(6) tenure will come to mean less than it does already (there will be fewer people tenured at the very least). Brian Leiter's been talking for a long time about how easy it is to get tenure in law schools. That may cease; in fact, I think we've already seen it change. How's this happen? Through more rigorous reviews at the university level. This can't happen easily at the law school level.
Now, why the picture of Casablanca? Well, I was trying to get a picture that fit for spotting new trends--and it dawned on me that Bogart's dress seemed so "modern" for the 1940s. That is, someone looking at the picture when it came out in 1942 would think, ah, this is how people will dress in the future (or at least near future). Now--please--those of you who study fashion may have a different idea--maybe it was actually a better representation of how people dressed in the 1930s. But in this case, it's the image of future that I'm after--not whether it actually accurately predicted the future!