Paul L. Caron

Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Law School Class Of 2020 Should Not Be Subjected To A Prolonged 'Professional Coma'

National Law Journal op-ed:  An 'Immodest Proposal': Bar Exam Requires Innovative Accommodations Amid Pandemic, by Judith Welch Wegner (North Carolina; co-author, The Bar Exam and the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Need for Immediate Action):

CoronavirusAs bar leaders and examiners across the nation collectively face the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, I write with an “immodest proposal.”

In his 1729 essay “A Modest Proposal,” Jonathan Swift ironically proposed that poor Irish toddlers be fattened and sold as food for the wealthy, to control overpopulation and unemployment and improve the economy. In writing, he hoped to shock the policymakers of his time to move beyond simplistic and ineffectual responses to the Irish plight. However, I fear that Swift’s description is all too accurate in describing how bar licensing authorities and senior bar leaders are approaching the COVID-19 pandemic as it affects graduating law students.

In using this analogy my point is to remind decision-makers of the stark realities facing graduating students and desperate citizens if recent law graduates are placed into a prolonged professional coma with crippling adverse effects. Let’s look those realities in the eye.

While several states have already decided to postpone their upcoming bar exams to fall, it’s worth noting that a traditional September bar exam may not be viable. Unfortunately, we face a future in which COVID-19 may result in ongoing limitations on public assemblies, particularly if a second wave of infections materializes. The upshot would be a second rescheduling, likely in February, with other solutions harder to achieve because of lost time.

Further, a September—or later—bar exam ignores the costs to students. Graduating students have no ready way to secure the funds they will need to survive for the added months before the proposed September 2020 rescheduled bar exam. These costs are significant: bar prep courses, living costs and lost wages for those displaced from part-time jobs. Mental health costs will also rise, as the stress of caretaking responsibilities and uncertainty about the future cause anxiety to grow. ...

[I]t’s time to mitigate immediate problems through supervised practice rules. ... Bar leaders should also consider adopting an emergency provisional licensing system. For example, grant registered bar candidates a one-year provisional license that functions as an enhanced training and evaluation period.

For complete TaxProf Blog coverage of the coronavirus, see here.

Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink


As I said above, "Those who resort to ad hominems have nothing to say." MM helpfully exemplifies that.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Apr 11, 2020 11:53:00 AM

"do you ever get tired of trolling these sites?"

No, he doesn't, and he calls others trolls.

Given this shutdown we're all going through, maybe he should change his handle to "Permanently Unemployed Northeastern"...

Posted by: MM | Apr 10, 2020 6:02:15 PM

A case can certainly be made for providing emergency bar privileges for this year's graduating class, but when professors and students are writing that they want to do this for the benefit of all those would be clients out there who need their lawyer ready skills, they are deluding themselves. They're sure not fooling anyone out in the real world.

Posted by: PaulB | Apr 6, 2020 4:26:34 PM

Those who resort to ad hominems have nothing to say, particularly in reference to how the previous generation of doomed would-be lawyers were treated by the gatekeepers versus this article recommends for the Gen Z lawyerlets. I mean, it seems like it would be a lot less work for you all to just mutter "Network," take a long lunch, and then go back home as you lot did during the Great Recession.

Maybe this is how I pass the time while enjoying my guaranteed Million Dollar Premium. Maybe in the vein of the two Anons here, this sobriquet is passed down from generation to generation. Maybe I'm a doppleganger; I've had at least a few over the years, including one who made hundreds of pro-law school edits under this handle while launching a fusillade of unhinged attacks against Law School Transparency and heaping mountains of praise on some obscure philosophy listicle before getting banned from Wiki for getting into fights with about six different mods. Who knows?

And yes, there are new developments in law school land, including potential breaches of ABA accreditation standards.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Apr 6, 2020 9:25:26 AM

Whoa... that wasn't me (the real Anon).

Posted by: Anon (real one) | Apr 5, 2020 6:15:07 PM

UNE: do you ever get tired of trolling these sites? Your schtick may have been fresh in 2012 and tolerable in 2015, but by 2020 you need some new material.

Posted by: Anon | Apr 5, 2020 3:04:59 PM

Or alternatively we could just say "Bootstraps!" and "Network!" and "Maybe you have to move to North Dakota!" as we did for the law school classes of circa 2008 through at least 2015 or so, and then claim "95% employed at graduation at $160k median starting salary!!!"

You know, lest we forget the tens of thousands of potential legal careers that legal academia, the profession, the bar examiners, and the ABA had absolutely zero problem watching go to pot less than a decade ago.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Apr 5, 2020 8:36:05 AM