Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Revisiting The Ninety-Five Theses: Systemic Reforms of American Legal Education and Licensure by Brent E. Newton: Part III

I am continuing my revisit to Brent Newton's 95 theses of 2012. (here)

1. There should be undergraduate “pre-law” prerequisites or some other measure of basic knowledge of law, the legal system, and the legal profession by applicants for entrance into law school.  Nope.

2. Prospective law students should be required to work full-time, preferably in the legal field, for at least two years after receiving their undergraduate degree and before entering law school.  Nope, although I would have to say that this one is somewhat impractical.

5. There are too many law schools, too many law students, and too many law professors based on our country’s current model of providing legal services.  A few law schools have recently closed.  Some would argue that there are still too many law schools admitting too many students.  However, it is also true that segments of the population are under-served.

6. The current system of providing federal student loans to law students has financed the bloated system of legal education and allowed law schools to avoid the negative financial consequences caused by the excessive number of graduates.  Many law school critics are still making this argument.

7. Law professors and deans should not dominate the ABA accreditation process.  Nothing has changed with this one.

8. The ABA’s law school accreditation process should require schools to demonstrate that students are actually mastering the necessary knowledge, skills, and professional values.  The ABA has added an outcome assessment requirement to its standards.  It remains to be seen how well this one will work, but I am optimistic based on what some law schools have posted on their websites.

14. The U.S. News & World Report ranking system is fundamentally flawed, and its influence on legal education has been malignant.  Although the U.S. News rankings have been widely-criticized, they are still the standard by which law schools are judged by students and administrators.

15. Law school tuition is too high and is wrongly allocated primarily to benefit law professors at the expense of law students.  Law school tuition remains high.

16. There is an unnecessary culture of stress in law school.  This problem remains, although many researchers are studying this problem.

17. Most law schools fail to inform students about the realities of the legal profession and do not help them choose their career paths wisely.  For the most part, this remains true.  I and others have advocated that law schools include professional identity training so that students can better choose their career paths.

18. The recent trend toward merit-based scholarship programs in most law schools has had significant malign consequences.  This was a major problem five years ago, and it remains a major problem today.  The law school tuition and scholarship model is very unfair to those who are least able to pay.  Of course, a major reason this model has been adopted is because of the U.S. News rankings.

I will continue my revisit in a later post.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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