Sunday, September 22, 2013

Legal Education reform in the US

The American Bar Association just posted the draft report and recommendations of the Task Force on the Future of Legal Education. It has some really interesting recommendations. I cannot say that they are extraordinary. The task force recommends several changes that are meant to level financial inequality and provide for more diversity and allowing for more innovation which interest me the most.

Fundamentally, the task force reminds us that legal education is a private and a public good. Having competent legal service providers is a public good that the state must ensure. Legal education promotes the creation of problem solvers and critical thinkers who can serve as leaders, also a public good. Legal education also provides individuals the ability to study and then go practice law. Law schools historically did not need to consider the marketplace for their graduates but society is asking them to do so now.

Tie scholarships to financial need not LSAT scores 

The task force asks law schools to reconsider allowing scholarships for those who apply with high LSAT (law school admissions test) scores. Instead, financial support should be tied to financial need. This will allow students who have the greatest needs, historically minority students, the best opportunity to succeed without crushing debt after law school graduation.

State Bar innovation

State bars which regulate admission to the bar are encouraged to consider proposals to reduce the amount of law study required to take the bar exam. This includes the ability to complete undergraduate study that allows for sitting the bar exam as well.

Innovation in California

The State Bar of California is already considering a Limited License to practice law structure. In addition, the Supreme Court of California is hearing a case regarding allowing an illegal immigrant to take the California State Bar exam, allowing them to practice law in California.

Interesting domestic changes that are the result of economic shifts int he delivery of legal services as well as the growing number of individuals who need legal services and cannot afford it.