Who knew I could head across the Pond to see intriguing coverage of U.S. law schools, lawyers and the legal profession?
That’s what I discovered recently, when a colleague shared a link to a story in The Economist. Though the first article I read annoyed me a bit, the writing is good (and we should appreciate their interest!).
That article was in regard to the possible shortening of law school from three years to two. The writer wisely cited some New York law professors for their insight and the likelihood of the new curriculum rolling out in New York.
I got to the last paragraph holding my breath, expecting that somewhere—somewhere—the reporter would mention developments west of the Hudson. And then I saw the kicker: “New York could be a lodestar for the rest of the country.”
Really? Not a word about a pilot project in Arizona that leads the nation. Once it’s up and running, it will allow certain law students to take the bar exam in their third year. There’s your lodestar.
Oh, well. At least their general proposition is intriguing: “Law students have been saying for years that America’s legal education is broken. Graduates from even the best law schools are failing to find jobs. And those that do often find themselves stuck.”
And then cruise over to their coverage of the possibility of non-lawyer ownership of law firms. The author examines a lawsuit by the law firm Jacoby & Meyers seeking to allow that very thing.
That article, I must add, included an Arizona connection, in the form of a University of Arizona Law School professor:
“Theodore Schneyer, a professor at the University of Arizona, was co-chairman of a working group for the ABA investigating the question of ownership. It came down in favour of outsiders investing in law firms and working alongside lawyers; this would allow, for instance, engineers to help lawyers with patents. But the ABA’s Commission on Ethics 20/20, charged with modernising the profession, declined to take up this proposal. Mr Schneyer, who personally favours even broader reform, thinks that only lawsuits like Jacoby & Meyers’s will bring progress.”
And then, read a final Economist insight, this one also on legal education. It opens:
“Today’s average law-school graduate in America is left with $100,000 of debt on top of undergraduate debts. Reforming the system would help both lawyers and their customers—and these, at some point in a life, include most people. Sensible ideas have been around for a long time, but the state-level bodies that govern the profession have been too conservative to implement them.”
Have a terrific weekend.Follow @azatty