Monday, March 4, 2013

Old School: The Outdated Law School Model

Photo courtesy of stockfreeimages.com
I came across this recent post in Outside the Law School Scam, a blog you should definitely check out.  The post was a call to action on the part of scambloggers - what are they/we looking for exactly?  I then remembered that I wrote a post about the flaws I see in the current law school model, as well as some changes I'd like to see (scroll to the bottom of my post if you want to cut to the chase) about a year and a half ago.  I think it's worth re-posting, since it could benefit anyone considering going to law school.  My ideas for change are simple, although probably difficult to implement.  So just to keep the message going about the potential financial and career pitfalls that await newly minted JD's, here you go: The Flawed Law School Model (October 2011).

What changes would you like to see implemented?  Shutting down all law schools?  Shutting down all for-profit law schools?  Caps on tuition?  Student loan reform?  I'd love to hear them!

13 comments:

  1. I followed your advice and created a gmail account with a pseudonym. I sent you a message a few minutes ago.

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  2. Close down the bottom 3/4 of all ABA-accredited trash pits. The displaced "professors" and deans can then clean toilets, for a living.

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    1. Ha! I'd love to see professors and deans getting real jobs. Some of the professors at my school weren't even barred anywhere, so if they couldn't "teach," they'd be SOL until they studied for and passed the Bar, if they actually wanted to practice law. Which I am pretty sure they wouldn't, since law practice involves some level of knowledge, work, and the ability to think on one's feet. It's a little different than teaching a hornbook to a lecture hall full of uninformed, indebted law students.

      As for the call to action, I wonder if there really is anything to be done besides just keeping potential law students informed about what they're signing up for. It seems like a waste of time to wait for legislation or for law schools to be more transparent on their own. That could take decades.

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    2. How many of the 201 ABA-approved law schools offer a degree that, based on job placement statistics, is valued and respected by employers? The answer is 13. Therefore, the other 188 ought to close.

      If there is a need to train more lawyers beyond what the 13 can produce--and I am not sure that there is-- I would recommend a return to the apprenticeship model, modified and updated for these more complicated times.

      Students could undergo a bar review like crash course to teach core doctrine fast. Then they would undergo a structured series of clinics and extrenships to train them to try a case, write an appeal, and represent clients in a couple of practice areas of the student's own choice. These clinics would be supervised by successful local practitioners, not by six-figure salaried law professors who have not seen the inside of a courtroom in 15 years, if ever.

      There is a theoretical risk that apprenticeship programs could flood the market with new lawyers, just like law schools do now. But I don't think that would happen. The practicing bar can be trusted not to flood our own profession with newbies, whereas law schools have a scammer's incentive to offer admission to anything with a pulse and access to student loans.

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  3. If I was the King of the ABA I would first shut down all for-profit law schools and all law schools of any type of governance that are not affiliated with a college or university.

    Then I would change the way that people apply for law school.
    Students take the LSAT like they do now
    Then they would first apply to the ABA for the right to attend law school; submitting their grades, LSAT scores, and forms giving us the right to pull credit, and background information useful for investigation.
    The ABA would investigate everyone, rejecting students that could never pass a Character and Fitness test.
    Of the students left, the top N of them would receive the right to apply to law school; good for a year.
    Then students can apply to wherever, but only if they have received the right to apply to law school.
    N would depend on things like number of law jobs available for the previous year or several years averaged out, flunk out rate at schools, maybe a little for people who actually want to go to law school but don't want to practice law. If I were to guess, a good number would be 20k people should be allowed to go to law school right now.

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  4. @ Anon 6:50, those are interesting ideas. Maybe each applicant should have a sponsor as well. An applicant could be required to complete an internship with an attorney and if that attorney thinks the applicant actually has a future in law, then they can vouch for the applicant. It's how attorneys get admitted to certain Bars (I had to be sponsored for two of the Bars I was admitted to). Why make it any different for law school?

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