Friday, June 4, 2010

In Scott Turow’s book “One L,” he mentioned the reason he chose Harvard over Stanford. It wasn’t academics. The reason was the lowest ranked person in Harvard is still guaranteed a job where at Stanford he wouldn’t be. This book was written in 1970 with less than 100 Law Schools in existence. Today, there are more than 200 Law Schools in existence cranking out 43,000 grads a year. The legal job market is saturated. Law Grads are begging for Doc Review, Paralegal, or Clerical jobs. Things are bad.

If you ask from the ABA how there are handling this: First, they are oblivious. What problem? Second, their end-all answer is to increase the Bar Exam’s toughness and passing score. “We will just raise the passing score,” is their motto. They tried this formula in Florida. The Fla Supreme Court raised the score from 130 to 136. Did it help? No!

First, you need to understand without Bar passage a JD is useless. Discount all other propaganda; it is. Second, an average grad packs $100 K in loan debt accompanying the JD degree. Very few jobs pay enough to pay that debt off. The graduate has no choice but to keep plugging away at the Bar Exam until he passes. He invests in a number of courses, e.g., Barbri, Micromash, Kaplan, PMBR, Piper ... to drill to get a passing score.

Most Law Schools have no incentive to change the system. They offer the career services office and that is it. They will treat their alums like estranged spouses after graduation.

I understand this system works for Law Schools and the ABA. But to those of us trying to earn a living practicing Law; it s*cks. So, I offer my solutions to change this system:

a)Lower total admitted first year class size to 90 students. This is average Medical School class size. The smaller class size provides a better end product.

b)No more P/T, Night, Correspondence, Online, or Law Office study. No other professional degree offers these alternatives. You will never meet a physician who went to night medical school.

c)Cap Law School loans. Law Schools charge more because they know you can afford more.

d)Have undergraduate prerequisites to Law School study. Medical, Dental, Chiropractic etc Schools have prerequisite classes. My Law School required two undergraduate accounting classes. This requirement did cut down knee-jerk admissions applications. Simply require 8 to 9 required germane classes.

e)Follow the UK's example. US Law School must have a required 4th year of Law School. This 4th year of Law School would be a matching paid residency. Every UK Pre-Solicitor must have a paid matching residency done through his Law School. The Law School must find him a matching paid job for experience. If they can’t find the student a job, no class slot is allotted. This is similar to medical residency/clerkships. Read, this is the main reason we don’t have store-front medical schools. Imagine a Law School trying to find just 80 paid jobs.

* * *

Most state Supreme Courts have given the ABA power over Law School accreditation. There is great political power and prestige with this capacity. But, the ABA has a problem. It has a monopoly on Law School accreditation. It keeps this monopoly because it doesn’t factor need into the equation of Law School accreditation. Currently, The ABA tries to take out Law Schools for low State Bar Passage Rates. But, that will never work. Thanks to BARBRI, Micromash, Piper etc… a whole industry is set up to help the worst student pass this test. The Law School experience is null at that point. It’s a broken system waiting to fail.