Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Evaporating Trust in American Legal Education

Kyle P. McEntee of Law School Transparency has written an important article on the evaporating trust in American Legal Education.

Abstract: Through a combination of ever-increasing and unfair costs, disturbing self-dealing, and — most widely publicized — deceptive marketing, law schools (justly) face historic skepticism about the services they provide and their methods of promoting those services. Persistent doubts about educational quality supplement concerns about law school economics.

A society of laws depends in part on the legal profession’s credibility: If the society doesn’t trust lawyers, it doesn’t trust the legal system. As such, all lawyers must recognize a duty to build trust through good behavior and continued enforcement of professional rules of conduct. Law schools and their agents harm the whole profession when they breach those duties. (emphasis added)

Though the ABA Section of Legal Education has made efforts to hold law schools accountable, it’s not apparent that the ABA seal is enough to earn back trust. This essay suggests a simple, efficient certification program for law schools to build reputation while helping rebuild public trust in the profession. The program increases the quality and consistency of consumer information (employment, financial aid, etc.), and it allows individual schools to assure prospective students that they are committed to best practices. The certification builds on the essential foundation set by the ABA to reignite the trust that the legal profession needs law schools to hold.

(Scott Fruehwald)


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