Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Justice Gorsuch's Advice For Law Schools

Wall Street Journal, Justice Gorsuch Said Findings of Probe Into Leaked Roe Draft Opinion Will Be Made in Report:

Justice Neil Gorsuch said Thursday that the Supreme Court’s investigation of the May leak of the draft opinion overruling Roe v. Wade was continuing, and that a report on the incident is coming. ...

In a public conversation with the circuit’s chief judge, Timothy Tymkovich, and Circuit Judge Joel Carson, Justice Gorsuch discussed several matters, including the cost and length of U.S. legal education.

In contrast to the U.K., where a law degree can be obtained in as few as three years of undergraduate study, he said, American lawyers typically obtain both a four-year bachelor’s degree and a three-year law degree.

“That’s something we have to ask ourselves about: Does it really require seven years of collegiate education to become a competent lawyer?” said Justice Gorsuch, who holds a doctorate from England’s Oxford University as well as degrees from Columbia College and Harvard Law School. He suggested that many law students are compelled to study areas in which they have no intention to practice, such as securities litigation for someone aiming for criminal defense work.

Lawyers in the U.S. can graduate with $150,000 of law school debt on top of their undergraduate debt, he said, a financial burden that impairs their ability to perform public service and forces them to ratchet up legal fees.

The legal profession, he said, typically opposes efforts to reduce the cost of legal services by restricting who can perform them to licensed attorneys.

“Every time LegalZoom wants to go to a new state they get sued for unauthorized practice of law,” he said. “It’s never by a consumer; it’s always a lawyer” who files suit, he said. Inc. provides online tools for routine legal tasks such as incorporation of a business.

Update:  National Review, Justice Gorsuch’s Law-School Existentialism

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