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David Redden

I'm all for making it less expensive. I also don't think it should be longer than maybe a couple years, with perhaps a 2 bar review added to the end. Change will come very slowly, however, and there is no shortage of high achievers who will attend law school, believing that, no matter how bad the job market gets, they will be the ones who make the big bucks.

Jared Hall

Need to bring back the apprenticeships. I've never heard a good reason why that method had to be done away with.

I knew two thing by my second year: 1) I didn't need to pay attention in most classes to pass, and 2) I only went to class because it was required due to the possible hurt to the ego of the professors if they really knew how many students didn't need them to learn.

So, why law school, why a bar exam? But, then I did the math on how much money the state bar takes in from the bar exam--over their dead body they'll give that up. I really enjoy the annual report of the budget of the state bar--money well spent, no doubt.


Isn't this a function of archaic requirements foisted upon the law schools by the ABA? I'm certain that law schools would be adapting their offerings absent Standard 304(b) of the ABA, which arbitrarily requires 58,000 minutes of instruction prior to graduation.

And yes, it is without a doubt utterly and completely absurd to have such a requirement. The issue is: who is going to ever lobby for such a rule change? Not many folks who have the power to make a difference, IMO. There's too much money in the status quo for the schools to care. Once kids are done with law school, how much do they care about making it better for those following them? Not much, I don't think. Maybe I'm too cynical.

I agree that something needs to change because the system is currently terrible.


I have no problem with the program. If you don't like it you should stay home and be happy with your previous profession, if you have one. If you go straight through the program with full course loads and schooling through summers you should get through law school in 27 months. If you really find the course work so easy then you shouldn't mind taking 16 or 17 hours a semester so you can get our early. It's sure worth it financially. Graduating a semester early saves a lot of money on tuition, fees and living expenses. If you don't like the price of law school then you might consider being content with your current station or earning some or all of the costs before you go, or take turns with your spouse putting each other through school and just start late. There's nothing wrong with graduating from school when you are 30 or 40. It has been done before, and some people never get the chance anyway. Be happy. Feel lucky. If you are in law school you ARE fortunate. As for taking too long, the point of the ABA requirements is to protect clients, not to make sure you personally get the training you need to be successful.
I am not convinced that law school is too long, and I don't want to take classes from the kind of law professors that you can hire for what would be available at $5000 a year. If there is a program that is truly too expensive then by definition you cannot afford it. Don't go! Be a plumber. I would like to see private firms sponsor individual student's law schooling as a part of their training as apprentices. I won't hold my breath.
Luck to you all.

Daniel C. Reuter

Absolutely. But it won't happen quickly or easily. The law school industry has a big dog in this fight. It will find many "public service" reasons to maintain the status quo.

Charles J. Cochran, Jr.

Chuck: I believe the system is broken. It is not so much the question over exposing students to areas of the law and courses which are not necessary but rather the practical information and training which is missing. Doctors are required to go through an internship after they complete their coursework to make sure they are able to apply practically what they learned from a book. I do not believe the time spent in applying what has been learned to be a waste of time. For law school to really be successfull in providing an education I believe there should be more of an internship type atmosphere during at least the last year of law school. Law students who have reached the last year should be paired with an attorney who is currently actually working in a more general practice and then an attorney in a particular field of practice. This would give the student a practical overview as well as one which is more specific. This is not to say that all attorneys would by necessity be specialized but each should select a particular field to be exposed to so that when they pass the bar the new lawyer has at least something which they can apply themselves to. The mentor attorney would then be responsible to see that the law student was actually practicing law, under their supervision of course, for the entire period. The mentor must actually permit a fully supervised practice not just use the student as some type of gopher. The last year of law school tuition could be given to that mentor attorney which coupled with the free work which the law student does for the attorney would make it practical for the attorney to spend some time training the third year law student. This is even more important with the current state of the economy since summer internships will probably decrease. I do not believe that paid summer internship positions were ever a complete fix to an absence of an actual internship period since not all law students could even get into these programs and their purpose leaned more to giving the law firm a pre-graduation peek at a prospective future employee. The benefit to the profession as well as the law student would be tremendous. The profession would gain, after sitting for the Bar exam, an attorney who had some idea of what they were doing both generally and in one area of the law. The student would gain an understanding of what being a lawyer really is and enable them to decide whether they really wanted to be an attorney and what will be required of them. The student would also have a choice of where to spend their specialized period of instruction and have the opportunity to learn a bit about the business side of the practice. There are a large number of solo attorneys out there who could really use the help, both physically and economically, so the pool of mentors should be more than adequate. Large law firms would still have an opportunity to participate and get their pre-graduation look but those students who would not normally have the opportunity for a summer position would now have the opportunity to do so. If the large law firm wished to compete for interns they could always offer the position with payment to the student. The transfer of the last year of tuition to the large firm will act as an incentive to keep up an intern/apprentice program. I wrote an article on my blog at 4laborlaw.com where I spoke about the student need for a mentor a few months ago. Chuck if you would like to link to this article please feel free to.

M. Jean Sullivan

I don't think that "if you don't like it, don't go" is a very useful argument. The question is whether there is anything about the current three-year law school education that makes it the best way to educate lawyers, or if there should be alternatives.

Why NOT have shorter programs available for people who just want to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible? Is anybody out there arguing that the third year is when most students start to really understand legal analysis? Is there data that suggests that if you don't have at least a three-year commitment, the schools will be filled with less dedicated students?

I've never heard it said that you need this much education to be able to competently practice law. On the contrary, I've only heard that there is no correlation between grades and practice skills. From what I can tell, the length of the current program is just the way it's always been done - just high-stakes exams and competitive grading are THE WAY ITS ALWAYS BEEN DONE. None of these policies have anything to do with the best interests of students or the profession.

The only thing accomplished by the current requirements for a legal education is that they put a very high price of entry into the profession. That helps to justify the high cost of services to the client and the high salaries paid at big firms. Massive student loan debts ensure that firms can continue to require their associates to work insanely long hours, a sort of modern indentured servitude. Meanwhile the firm bills the client exorbitant rates for all those hours. The winners in this systems aren't the associates or the clients, its the partners - and those are the guys who make ABA policy.

IMHO, I think there should be options available to potential law students. Somebody who just wants to learn how to practice law and pass the bar should be able to do that in two years. Maybe schools could resurrect the designation "LL.B." for a degree in that course of study. On the other hand, somebody who is interested in legal theory or who wants to work in the courts might prefer to stay for a third year and get a J.D. There's no reason the two approaches cannot peacefully coexist.

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    The opinions expressed in this weblog represent only the opinions of the author(s) and are in no way intended as legal advice upon which you should rely. Every person's situation is different and requires an attorney to review the situation personally with you.
    Charles (Chuck) Newton is licensed to practice law in all courts in the State of Texas, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and all United States District Court and Bankruptcy Courts in the State of Texas.
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