Monday, February 11, 2013
New York Times: A Call for Drastic Changes in Educating New Lawyers:
Faced with profound and seemingly irreversible shifts, the legal profession is contemplating radical changes to its educational system, including cutting the curriculum, requiring far more on-the-ground training and licensing technicians who are not full lawyers.
The proposals are a result of numerous factors, including a sharp drop in law school applications, the outsourcing of research over the Internet, a glut of underemployed and indebted law school graduates and a high percentage of the legal needs of Americans going unmet.
“There is almost universal agreement that the current system is broken,” said Thomas W. Lyons III, a Rhode Island lawyer and a member of the ABA’s Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, which gathered here over the weekend for a public hearing at the association’s midyear meeting.
While a few schools are freezing tuition and others are increasing hands-on learning, critics are increasingly saying that the legal academy cannot solve its own problems, partly because of the vested interests of tenured professors tied to an antiquated system. Effective solutions, they insist, will have to be imposed from the outside. ...
At the task force’s hearing, where lawyers and students gave testimony, most said the time was ripe for that change. Many recommended reducing the core of law school to two years from three to cut costs. Others suggested that college juniors should be encouraged to go directly to law school, the bar exam should be simplified, accreditation standards should be relaxed to allow for more experiential learning, and states should establish training for the legal equivalent of nurse practitioners. ...
One group that came under frequent attack at the meeting here was tenured law school professors, who were criticized as having high pay, low productivity and a remote relationship with the practice of law.
- Above the Law, The ABA Is Coming Around on Reforming Legal Education