Two Years A Lawyer?
Mark BelloJanuary 16, 2013 3:04 PM
Ran into this little tidbit while surfing the net. The author refers to critics who think that the third year of law school is a "waste of time". The state of New York is currently considering whether to allow law students to sit for the bar exam after only two years of law school. The driving factor is, apparently, the rising cost of law school in an economy where people have less money. So what's more important? The cost of education or the competency of lawyers? Do we need to make this choice?
When I went to law school (almost 40 years ago), my 3rd year was full of required classes; only the final semester (four months) was filled with elective courses. Maybe it is different, today; I don't know. Some of my younger colleagues can chime in about more recent curriculums. If we are going to eliminate a 3rd year, I would advocate for an "internship" of some sort, like that required in the medical profession.
Critics of lawyers, like our old friend Dr. Cox (a frequent commenter at this site), opine that the legal system allows a person to get out of law school, pass the bar exam, be admitted to practice and immediately sue a doctor for malpractice, despite having absolutely no trial experience and no training in handling malpractice cases. If a new admittee (or a 3rd year student) wants to practice in the medical malpractice field of law, should he train/intern with an experienced malpractice firm/lawyer? Would this be a more valuable "3rd year of law school" than the current curriculum? If this type of internship was required at no charge to the student, it would have three benefits (and, probably, more):
1. Providing the candidate with "real world" legal experience in the specialty of his/her choice
2. Reducing the cost of a law school education
3. Providing a "free" legal intern for the participating lawyer/firm that agrees to provide the internship
Many law students clerk for law firms, lawyers, judges, etc. while in law school. Some get significant practicable experience; some do not. I believe that an internship at a legal office specializing in the area of practice that the prospective lawyer is interested in, a year of "real world" legal experience before declaring someone to be a lawyer, would be more valuable than a third year of law school. What do you think?
Mark M. Bello is CEO and General Counsel for Lawsuit Financial Corporation. He is actively blogs about legal issues and has written numerous articles for a variety of legal publications including the Legal Examiner and the Safety Report. He is a JusticePac member of the American Association for Justice, a sustaining and JusticePac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, an associate member of several other state TLA's, and a proud member of the Injury Board.