A Call for Drastic Changes in Educating New Lawyers

The legal profession is contemplating radical changes to legal educational amid broad agreement that the current system is broken.
News Story (District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, NATIONAL, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Washington)

Ethan Bronner
New York Times (NYT)
February 10, 2013
Link to story

Tags: Delivery Systems, Law Schools, Unbundling

Organizations mentioned/involved: American Bar Association (ABA), Law School Transparency (LST)


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.

The proposals are a result of numerous factors, including a sharp drop in law school applications, the outsourcing of research over the Internet, a glut of underemployed and indebted law school graduates and a high percentage of the legal needs of Americans going unmet.

“There is almost universal agreement that the current system is broken,” said Thomas W. Lyons III, a Rhode Island lawyer and a member of the American Bar Association’s Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, which gathered here over the weekend for a public hearing at the association’s midyear meeting.

While a few schools are freezing tuition and others are increasing hands-on learning, critics are increasingly saying that the legal academy cannot solve its own problems, partly because of the vested interests of tenured professors tied to an antiquated system. Effective solutions, they insist, will have to be imposed from the outside.
Many recommended reducing the core of law school to two years from three to cut costs. Others suggested that college juniors should be encouraged to go directly to law school, the bar exam should be simplified, accreditation standards should be relaxed to allow for more experiential learning, and states should establish training for the legal equivalent of nurse practitioners.