The American Bar Association’s Task Force on the Future of the Legal Education met this past weekend to discuss what is seen as an urgent need for bold changes in the legal education in the United States, as reported in a New York Times article.
According to this article, some of the suggested changes are described as follows:
Many recommended reducing the core of law school to two years from three to cut costs. Others suggested that college juniors should be encouraged to go directly to law school, the bar exam should be simplified, accreditation standards should be relaxed to allow for more experiential learning, and states should establish training for the legal equivalent of nurse practitioners.
The cost of a legal education (this is especially true in the United States), a public that cannot afford lawyers’ fees and a growing global community are some of the challenges being faced. However, one aspect of this article that especially resonated with me was the discussion surrounding law graduates’ lack of practical knowledge. While there was definitely a very steep learning curve when I entered the profession, I am still grateful for the countless hours of theory, philosophy, analysis and critical thinking that was a very large part of my legal education. I think that those very aspects of my education make me a better lawyer. There is a difference between training a person in the law and training a legal practitioner. The solutions discussed by the American Bar Association all have to do with how to train lawyers, as is its mandate under the task force mentioned above, but were does this leave law as an academic discipline?