Monday, February 11, 2013

Lawyers Call for Drastic Change in Educating New Lawyers -

 It's class warfare in the classrooms of America's law schools, the Times reports from the American Bar Association's annual meeting.  Business wants better-trained law graduates, and lower labor costs.   Hard for me to see how you get both.  Students want lower tuition because jobs are fewer and less lucrative than was the case a few years back.  Training in law practice requires, well, law practice.  Clinical, education is costly because lawyers need to supervise practicing students.  That leads to high faculty-student ratios. 
The ABA Section on Legal Education demands faculty governance.  Few are likely to vote themselves out of a job.  So faculty are sure to opt for taking more of the load, rather than less: reducing low-paid adjuncts, rather than tenured faculty jobs with health insurance and retirement plans.  
State high courts generally set bar admission standards.  Are they really going to allow students to take the bar after the second year of law school, reducing legal training, rather than strengthening the skill set of new lawyers?  And is anyone going to support more subsidies for public law schools so that lawyers can graduate without a $150,000 mortgage at twenty five years of age? - gwc

Lawyers Call for Drastic Change in Educating New Lawyers -

by Ethan Bronner
"DALLAS — Faced with profound and seemingly irreversible shifts, the legal profession is contemplating radical changes to its educational system, including cutting the curriculum, requiring far more on-the-ground training and licensing technicians who are not full lawyers."...

One group that came under frequent attack at the meeting here was tenured law school professors, who were criticized as having high pay, low productivity and a remote relationship with the practice of law. Robert L. Weinberg, a retired founding partner of the Washington law firm Williams & Connolly and a lecturer at George Washington University Law School, said that instead of restricting the number of adjunct lecturers like himself, law schools ought to greatly increase them because they bring real-world examples to students.
Jim Chen, a professor of law at the University of Louisville and a former dean of its law school, said that to reduce law school from three years to two would mean that, in turn, tenured professors, whom he called the biggest expense for law schools, would have to take a one-third cut in pay. But, Mr. Chen said, they would never accept that, and the impetus for change would have to come from State Supreme Courts.
Derek M. Tokaz, the research director of Law School Transparency, a legal education policy group that seeks to guide some of the changes, told the gathering that drastic changes were needed in student loans and accreditation. Rather than start with the number of required classroom minutes or student-teacher ratio, Mr. Tokaz said, what students need to know upon graduation should be agreed upon first.
As the meeting ended, one task force member, Michael P. Downey of St. Louis, summed it up. “The house is on fire,” he said. “We don’t want a report that sits on a shelf.”

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