Paul L. Caron

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dean: Law Schools Should Adopt Medical Residency Model

Legal RebelsABA Journal Legal Rebels:  Law Schools Should Consider Med-School Model, by Vincent Rougeau (Dean, Boston College):

Until very recently, the American legal profession and its law schools were relatively insulated from the effects of economic globalization. That time has passed, but more explosive changes are yet to come. ...

Now is the moment for American law schools and the American legal profession to rethink their relationship. A massive, global transformation in the way legal services are provided is well under way, fueled by technology that breaks down borders and facilitates low-cost approaches. The biggest mistake we in the U.S. can make is to think that our objections will prevent the rest of the world from pressing forward. ...

In this country, medicine provides the most obvious example of how a profession can cooperate successfully with the schools that educate its future members. I am not the only one who has pointed to medicine as a model; Rutgers School of Law-Newark dean John Farmer recently proposed the idea in a New York Times op-ed, and it is a comparison many others have made in the past when discussing legal education reform. Yes, law is different from medicine, but the professions also have much in common. Both fields have long recognized that new members need some period of training under the supervision of seasoned professionals before they can work on their own. The medical profession has institutionalized this through residency programs, while practical legal training has more often than not been left to chance. ...

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The problem is that medicine accomplishes this by strictly limiting the number of new medical schools and attempting, however feebly, to target medical services to areas that need them. Are law schools willing to do the same? Or is this simply another effort by current deans, who largely created the mess, to direct attention elsewhere?

Posted by: michael livingston | Mar 15, 2013 1:17:34 AM

Michael, it is the latter. The idea that professional lawyers will enter into some sort of collaboration with law schools to benefit the schools and their recent graduates is delusion of the highest order.

I mentioned the upcoming constriction in law graduates to a classmate at lunch yesterday, and he loudly declared "that's great!" Doesn't this dean realize that all professional lawyers look forward to a huge reduction in new graduates? That it actually benefits them!

These deans must think their institutions are like the Museum of Fine Arts, where the public will mobilize to save it. They won't find any audience for their pleas.

Posted by: JM | Mar 15, 2013 7:10:57 AM

No. Absolutely not.

As a current resident I can say making law residencies is just an attempt to further distort the legal job market.

There's nothing like getting paid $16 an hour for 5 years and working 60-90 hours a week.

Posted by: PT | Mar 15, 2013 7:19:09 AM