Law Schools

How to improve law school? Required clinical training, capped loans are among expert suggestions


Law schools that once promised grads a place among the elite need to change along with the legal profession, according to several experts who offered their suggestions.

The New Republic queried the experts as a follow-up to an article that, in its words, “chronicles the looming economic collapse of the legal profession.” ABAJournal.com reported on the highlights or the prior article here. The experts’ suggestions are here.

Among the suggestions gathered by the New Republic:

• From Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz: Law schools should offer two years of academic instruction and a third year focused on the student’s career choice that could include internships and clinical training. The third year change might result in the need for fewer teachers and reduced costs. “There are no free lunches when it comes to legal education,” he write, “but cost-cutting is essential as law-school tuition has ballooned dramatically over the past half century.”

• From University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos, who formerly blogged at Inside the Law School Scam: Cap student loans. “The cost of law school needs to be reduced to what it was a generation ago,” he writes. “This would happen practically overnight if the federal government put reasonable caps on educational loans.”

• Slate legal correspondent Dahlia Lithwick: Add a hands-on clinical component to legal education, and put it during the first year. “The hope is that a year of practicing taking depositions, doing document review, and interviewing cranky clients might have helped clarify for many of us, early and often, that we won’t all get to be Clarence Darrow,” she says.

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