Monday, November 30, 2009

Get Rid of Law School

I’ve come to think that law school is a huge rip-off. You go to school for three years, accumulate a pile of debt, all to earn the right to take the bar exam. So I have an alternative.

In order to be a lawyer, you should have to do two things: pass the bar, and do a one year apprenticeship. It should not be a requirement to go to law school, although people who had a burning desire to could I suppose.

My system has several advantages. First, it makes aspiring lawyers able to consider a broader arrange of options. The debt incurred while attending law school makes considering jobs like public defender impossible. Under my system, it’s possible that someone could become a certified lawyer with no debt. Instead of spending so much time thinking about how to pay debt down, a person can think about what area of law he really wants to do.

Second, my system breaks the stranglehold prestigious schools have on the legal profession to a degree. Now, people from Harvard law get the best clerkships and legal jobs because, well, they went to Harvard and they must be better than the rest of us. These of course are often the same people who gamed the system prior to law school. They took the easiest majors possible and avoided hard classes like the plague, all in an effort to get the highest GPA possible. If it sounds like I’m saying someone at Harvard Law who majored in brown-nosing wouldn’t make a better lawyer than someone with a lower GPA who majored in engineering and Arabic, I am. And my system solves for exactly this situation. The person with the legitimate majors in this scenario would likely find himself in a less prestigious law school with fewer career options available to him even though he would be just as good as, if not a better lawyer than the one who went to Harvard. Now, both men will be judged on their mastery of the law and apprenticeships instead of where they went.

Third, my system is better for women. Many women plan to take time off from the workforce to rear children at some point. They would often like to do so in their late twenties or early thirties. Assuming a person went to law school straight from undergrad, she would be 25 or 26 when she graduated. If she wanted to have children at 28, she’d have only two or three years to gain experience and move up the ladder. In fact, there’s very little chance she could make partner, or gain a position of significant authority with just two years of experience. Now assuming she passes the bar and apprenticeship when she’s 23, she has an extra two or three years of experience. Those years could make all the difference in determining whether a woman builds up enough seniority to be able to come back in a position of authority.

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