Tuesday, March 19, 2013

More on the Illinois State Bar Association Special Committee Report

The Illinois State Bar Association: Special Committee on the Impact of Law School Debt on the Delivery of Legal Services has made other recommendations, which I have not discussed in previous posts.

A. Revisions to Accreditation Standards.

1. Allow adjunct faculty to play a greater role in legal education, including in the first year;

2. Require that law schools provide debt counseling for all admitted students, before they commit to attend;

3. Remove the requirement that all faculty engage in scholarship;

4. Expand the credits a student can earn from distance education, and limit the requirements for a law school’s physical plant, thus allowing law schools to experiment with alternative ways of delivering legal education;

5. Allow law schools to meet the requirements for library collection through digital access;


6. Require law schools to collect additional information about the salary, debt load, and employment status of their graduates on a voluntary basis from multiple graduation years.

Comments: I agree with 2, 3, 5, and 6, but I have problems with 1 and 4. Concerning the use of adjuncts, I believe that law students mainly need to be taught by professors who are full-time teachers and who understand how to teach. Being an effective teacher requires as much training and experience as being an effective lawyer. In addition, I don’t see practitioners who spend most of their day practicing law devoting the time needed to teach effectively. (The same is true of apprenticeships.) Let’s face it; practitioners will generally be able to make more money practicing law than teaching as an adjunct. However, I am very much in favor of practitioners team teaching with law professors.

Concerning distance education, I am against anything that increases the amount of lecture and reduces the amount of student-teacher interaction. Distance education with large classes interaction is difficult. However, I have nothing against a small class (20 students or less) that uses something like skype to create the same kind of interaction students get in the classroom.

B. Support from Bar Associations.

1. Facilitate Firm Apprenticeship Programs.

2. Partner with Law Schools to Provide Practice Experiences to Law Students.

3. Facilitate Pro Bono Work.

4. Facilitate the Sale of Rural Law Practices to Young Lawyers.

5. Provide Debt Counseling for Lawyers and Prospective Law Students.

6. Provide Resources for Solo Practitioners and Small Firm Lawyers.

7. Partner with Groups to Ensure Lawyers are Placed Where They Are Needed.

(Scott Fruehwald)


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