Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Masters Programs And The Public Educational Mission Of Law Schools

Mark Edwin Burge (Texas A&M), Access to Law or Access to Lawyers? Masters Programs in the Public Educational Mission of Law Schools, 74 U. Miami L. Rev. __ (2019):

The general decline in J.D. law school applicants and enrollment over the last decade has coincided with the rise of a new breed of law degree. Whether known as a master of jurisprudence, juris master, or master of legal studies, these graduate degrees all have a target audience in common: adult professionals who neither are nor seek to become practicing attorneys. Inside legal academia and among the practicing bar, these degrees have been accompanied by expressed concerns that they detract from the traditional core public mission of law schools — educating lawyers. This article argues that non-lawyer masters programs are not a distraction from the public mission of law schools, nor are they a necessary evil foisted upon legal education by economic trends. Rather, such degrees reflect a paradigm shift that law schools and attorneys should embrace rather than resist: a move away from law being largely accessed primarily through a licensed elite and toward a greater role for autonomy in public engagement with the legal system.

The law school function of serving the public goes well beyond training future lawyers or even marshalling them in the advance of access to justice. The expanded legal education vision advocated here includes those functions, but as part of a more encompassing mission: ensuring access to law rather than simply access to lawyers. This article then sets forth foundational frameworks for such programs to succeed at their goals, both at the programmatic level and at the course-design level.

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Makes sense.

Also, making the costly, time consuming - there go four years of income AND career! - family unfriendly and mostly-irrelevant bachelor's degree beforehand optional would increase access to both law AND lawyers.

Don't fight the M. Jur., bring back the LL.B. (And till then stop the crocodile tears about lack of diversity.)

Posted by: Anand Desai | Jul 31, 2019 10:08:50 PM

Obvious revenue grabs with no discernible benefits for the matriculants are obvious.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jul 31, 2019 1:12:10 PM