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November 29, 2004

Blawg Wisdom Lives & 5 x 5

Holy dormant websites, batman! Blawg Wisdom has been updated, this time with three hot new requests and some better late than never admissions tips. For the good of your fellow students and the future of humanity, please browse on over and offer some helpful advice if you have any. Thanks! Also, your humble blogger recently participated in a Five by Five: Law Student Edition over at the [non]billable hour, along with four highly esteemed colleagues. Since now is the time in law school (finals time) when we all have plenty of complaints about the monster, you might enjoy some of the suggestions over there. It appears a majority of us believe that law school should be either shorter or more focused on practical experience, or both. In fact, possibly the most consistent thread in all the suggestions is that law school should give students a better, more realistic idea of what it means to practice law. Or, as Jeremy Blachman so aptly puts it (in his point 2), “If law schools are trying to train their students to be practicing attorneys, no one has told the people writing the curriculum.” So sadly true. But since law school can't be everything to everyone, why not allow different schools more freedom to do different things? That would be the point of Anthony Rickey's first point, which suggests we eliminate the ABA's accreditation system. You won't hear any complaints from me. In addition to possibly making law school less expensive, would fewer accreditation requirements allow schools to offer different curricula to serve different learning styles? Perhaps you could have more practical schools, more theoretical schools, more firm-oriented schools, more public interest oriented schools. Sure, we have that now, but the differences could be greater, and that could be good. You could also have one, two, or three year programs, and that would be excellent b/c it would allow different students to choose the level of education they could afford. Here's another idea I had reading through all these suggestions and thinking about my own: Law school should last two years. (That's not the idea; lots of people have suggested that.) The first year should be general and broad, much like it is now but even more so, including more history, theory, and providing a better idea of the terrain of law so students will understand as early as possible what their options are. Then, the second year would be more focused. You would have to choose whether you want to do criminal law, tort law, corporate law, tax, etc. You specialize, just like you do as an undergrad, and you take a focused curriculum that gives you excellent skills in your chosen field. Then you go to work. And if you ever decide that you chose wrong, you can go back. For example, if you decide after your first year that you'd really like to be a corporate lawyer, but then you go off to a firm and hate it, then you go back to school for one year and one year only and take a focused and concentrated course in some other specialty. You'd always be free to go three or more years at the beginning to take multiple specialties—if you were rich and could afford the luxury, or if you just couldn't make up your mind what area of law you wanted to specialize in. But the option to save $30k-$40k would be there for the rest of us. This way, you get a more thorough education in your chosen field, and you only have to pay for the classes you really need. Why not?

Posted 07:52 AM | law school meta-blogging

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