Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Should Law School Be Necessary?

That is the topic considered here. The ABA's big argument in favor of making law school mandatory is one of public policy. If the ABA requires that a lawyer attend three years of school from an accredited college, then it cuts down on the number of incompetent individuals who would otherwise be able to sit the bar. In the long run, it argues, the standards protect the industry and the public.

Others think that the strict requirement of three years for law school might be only necessary in the eyes of the ABA, the full time professors, and the law libraries, who rely on full time, three year law students' tuition to pay their salaries.

Now, I don't know that law school is exactly necessary to be a good lawyer... Among others, Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Webster never went to law school. However, I think that a mandatory law school requirement does cut down significantly on the number of people who arbitrarily decide to try to be lawyers without regard to their capability or what is required of a lawyer. I submit that for every great lawyer that came from not attending law school there are no less than three completely incompetent ones. Having a law school standard cuts down on that significantly due to the deterrent factor.

ABA accreditation is a different thing, and something that I can't comment intelligently on. I've not worked with any lawyers from Concord School of Law to know how qualified they actually are. I don't know that I'd want to have a person who got their law degree online representing me, but that speaks for the means, not the individual. If any of you have experience with lawyers who received their degree online (to the best of my knowledge, only California allows them to sit for their bar at this time), let me know... I'm interested.


Bookworm said...

I will say that graduates from non-ABA accredited law schools tend to -- how shall I say this politely? -- struggle. I don't know if it's still possible, but California used to allow an apprenticeship approach to getting a law degree. You had to spend 3-5 years working closely with a lawyer who formally sponsored you, and then pass the bar exam. I suspect that was how the Lincolns of the world became lawyers (although without the bar exam part). I suspect it made for very competently practitioners in whatever area their sponsor knew, but left them lacking the broader knowledge base that comes from passing through a law school.

Having said all that, I don't think my law school education contributed very much to the skills I now have as a lawyer. Those skills are strictly on the job training (plus luck in finding some mentors along the way). But since I really enjoyed law school, I'm not complaining.

Michelle said...

Personally i know of none. As you may or may not know, we don't have Law Schools as you do.We finish high school, then apply to the University of our choosing. Law here is broken down into so many areas, from business...corporate...indigenous..etc. Dependant on what you choose to do, it can take 2-5 years. Go out do your articles in a law firm for 12 months then sit the bar. It is very very competitive here in Oz to do law. Most University's only take students with the best marks, anything less than a near perfect score after graduating high won't be accepted. Now saying that, there are Universities that offer external and on line degrees in law. It costs a fortune (hehehe, although nothing like y'all pay) and i wonder too how you would go in applying for positions at firms.....i don't think you'd be looked upon favorably.