Monday, December 19, 2011

Yet Another Article About the Future of Law Schools and the Profession

Once again, the NY Times has printed a lengthy article about the problems associated with legal education. Sunday's article by David Segal - For Law Schools, a Price to Play the A.B.A.’s Way - is yet another examination of the current law school environment, especially the business of running a law school. The article focuses on the Duncan School of Law in Tennessee. Duncan is looking for ABA accreditation but they find that in order to get accredited they must comply with a series of onerous and arcane ABA regulations -
That means complying with a long list of standards that shape the composition of the faculty, the library and dozens of other particulars. The basic blueprint was established by elite institutions more than a century ago, and according to critics, it all but prohibits the law-school equivalent of the Honda Civic — a low-cost model that delivers.

Instead, virtually every one of the country’s 200 A.B.A.-accredited schools, from the lowliest to the most prestigious, has to build a Cadillac, or at least come close.

The net result is that the American people are under-represented. As Segal puts it -

...the United States churns out roughly 45,000 lawyers a year, but survey after survey finds enormous unmet need for legal services, particularly in low- and middle-income communities. This year, the World Justice Project put the United States dead last among 11 high-income countries in providing access to civil justice.
In the end, it is the ABA's stranglehold on legal education that is feeding the current crisis in law schools: law graduates with an unsustainable debt load. Complying with the ABA regulations isn't cheap and it is higher tuition that foots that bill...

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