Monday, July 5, 2010

Is Law School Necessary to be a Lawyer?

One former convict, Clarence Carter, says no. The state of Indiana says yes.

Here is part of the story:
A federal lawsuit filed by Carter against state court officials takes aim at what he sees as an unfair rule. It requires graduation from law school to take Indiana's bar exam, necessary to become a licensed lawyer.
But Carter cannot gain admission to law school:
With felony drug convictions on his record and a low score on a standard entry exam, the LSAT, his applications to 13 law schools have met with rejection.
Read the full story here.

1 comment:

  1. Although Carter himself may not be qualified to practice law on most reasonable understandings of attorney regulation, I'll take his story as motivation for reform in American legal education.

    It's somewhat unclear why bar exams, or at least the multistate bar exam, are relevant. Is anyone really served well by learning, e.g., that it's not arson if one burns down his own house, and that it isn't burglary if one slips into a neighbor's home during his afternoon siesta and absconds with his arrowhead collection? Even as to the state portion of bar examinations, there is something queer afoot - how often does, say, the NY lawyer face the question, 'I need an answer, stat, how long does this client have to appeal from a denial of this client's application by the zoning board?'?

    The JD as a graduate degree carries great cachet in many circles, but expense for many in procuring it seems to grossly distort the market for legal services; many in need of legal assistance can't afford it and end up going without it. True, there are pro bono services but they are a drop in the ocean compared to unmet demand. And to be sure, there are public law schools, but costs for attending many of those is fast approaching that of going to their private peers.

    Is it a good idea for the first degree in law, the JD, to be a graduate degree? For my part, I can't identify any decent argument supporting an affirmative response.


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