Paul L. Caron

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Arizona Launches Nation's First B.A. in Law

University of Arizona News, University of Arizona to Offer Nation’s First Bachelor of Arts in Law:

Arizona LogoStarting this fall, the University of Arizona will be the first university in the country to offer a Bachelor of Arts in Law.

Undergraduate degrees in law are already offered in numerous countries such as England, Australia, Canada, Mexico and China. The degree is seen as a good way to prepare individuals for a number of professions in which a strong knowledge of law is advantageous, such as corporate compliance, city planning, water resources management, business management, health care administration, human resources, policy analysis, and legal technology consulting.

“A Juris Doctor is a highly valuable degree and there are roles that only lawyers can serve,” said Marc Miller, dean of the James E. Rogers College of Law at the UA. “But training a broader range of students will serve society, open careers in areas of substantial regulation, respond to changes in technology and the forces of globalization, and invite opportunities for the delivery of new and more accessible legal services.” ...

A 3+3 program also will be offered and allow students to complete their Bachelor of Arts in law and a Juris Doctor in six years of study.

(Hat Tip: Brian Leiter.)

Update #1:

Update #2:  From Michael Musheno (Faculty Director, Legal Studies Program, Center for the Study of Law and Society, UC-Berkeley):

The program announcement of the UofA Law School about there forming the first U.S.-based academic undergraduate program in "law" is totally misleading. The undergraduate BA major in "legal studies" at UC/Berkeley is over 40 years old and based in Berkeley Law. Among others, both Northwestern and the University of Wisconsin have long-established undergraduate academic majors in law/legal studies. The only thing about the program announcement that is true on its face is that they are calling the major "law" rather than "legal studies."

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I have twice taught just such an undergraduate course at the same university where I teach in the law school. And, yes, I would still discourage prospective law students from taking the course if their reason for wanting to take it was preparation for law school, and even if they intended to stay at the same university for law school.

I view J.D. legal education as a unique undertaking that is a process and a journey of growth and development as a member of a profession. Hence, I teach the J.D. Legal Writing course very differently from how I teach the undergraduate one, focusing as much as possible in the J.D. course on active learning, facilitation, and empowerment. I teach fundamental principles to the 1Ls, but I am more a facilitator, empowering students to discover what makes for good legal writing. The undergraduate course, because it is not part of a professional school and because it will have students in it who do not intend to go to law school, cannot be taught in the same way. In a different world, where a B.A./J.D. combo is the required and fully integrated form of legal education and where J.D. Legal Writing (maybe Legal Writing II) expressly builds on the B.A. Legal Writing (maybe Legal Writing I), we might have a different story. But that's not what we're talking about here. There will of course be plenty of people in 1L Legal Writing at the U of A who did not get an undergraduate degree in Law at the U of A, let alone get an undergraduate degree in Law at all.

Posted by: Ben Bratman | May 11, 2014 9:13:49 AM

Ben, and if the Arizona program contained a course titled, "Principles of Legal Writing", taught by legal writing professors from the college of law, you would still object?

Posted by: HTA | May 9, 2014 7:55:30 AM

Under the current American system, I do not understand why anyone should obtain both a B.A. in Law and a J.D. Having a combination program of 3 + 3 or otherwise marketing a B.A. in Law as a good entree for law school is probably a disservice to students. The education and experiences afforded by a B.A. or B.S. in another subject are far more valuable in law school than those afforded by the undergraduate study of law. The latter will result in preconceived notions about the law and legal writing--preconceived notions that will make the transition into law school particularly difficult and frustrating. Having taught first-year law students for many years, I can say that especially in Legal Writing, students who majored or minored in Legal Studies, Criminal Justice, or other expressly law-related subjects almost always struggle, sometimes to a point of extreme frustration or disillusionment. There might be other good reasons to offer undergraduate degrees in Law, as the article suggests, but preparation for law school is not one of them.

Posted by: Ben Bratman | May 8, 2014 3:04:33 PM

Oxford U. offers a B.A. (Jurisprudence) and a B.C.L. as a graduate degree. The B.A. is sufficient to seek admission as a barrister or solicitor subject to examination. Cambridge, U. London and others offer the LL.B. after four years of study.

At one time, the University of Denver offered a 3/3 program with a B.S. (Jurisprudence or Law) after the fourth year, and an LL.B. after two more. AZ did not invent this idea.

Posted by: Al Golbert | May 8, 2014 11:48:04 AM

Publius- Agreed, if it's in law, it is BS.

Posted by: BSer | May 8, 2014 10:55:37 AM

Hey everybody! I just read Gibbons v. Ogden - now I'm totally ready for a career in "water resources management!" Huh? Hydrology? What's that? Is that important?

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | May 8, 2014 9:09:25 AM

Why is it a B.A.? It should be a B.S. or, even better, a B.LL. (or LL.B., if you are a traditionalist). We should be moving in this direction, with state bars permitting holders of the bachelor's degree to sit for state bar exams. Thereafter, the successful holder of the degree and exam passage would be qualified to apprentice to a real lawyer, either in a transactional track or a litigation track. In Britain, they call the former "solicitors" and the latter "barristers." The more things change, . . .

Posted by: Publius Novus | May 8, 2014 8:25:24 AM

This is interesting. A 3+3 makes a lot of sense. It might also be useful to have a minor in legal studies. Undergrads can determine whether they actually want to complete a full JD, while also understanding the nature of the legal system. That could be pretty valuable.

Posted by: HTA | May 8, 2014 6:38:37 AM

I think this will not be the last one. But the question is: if you learn it for a BA why do you need a JD also?

Posted by: michael livingston | May 8, 2014 4:20:49 AM