Abolishing the third year of law school is an interesting idea. But, you know what would really save some time and money? Getting rid of the first and second year as well.
That’s right, no more law school. Imagine if, instead of going to law school for three years, all you had to do to practice law was hit up the ATM and stop by your local thrift store for a snazzy discount suit.
Who, you might wonder, would propose such a thing? A debt-ridden attorney? A bitter law student? No, this tantalizing idea came out of the recent Leading Legal Innovation conference in San Diego, which you can read all about here.
Conference participant George Shepherd, a professor at Emory University School of Law, argues that before the Great Depression there were no bar exams or law degree requirements. Attorneys simply posted bond, showed up in court and everything ran smoothly.
Further, according to Shepherd and Preston McAfee, an economist from Caltech, ABA requirements and the bar exam serve as artificial barriers to entry into the legal profession that drive up the cost of legal services, hurting attorneys and poor clients.
All law students do is surf the internet for three years anyway, so maybe it makes sense to do away with the barriers and open the profession up to normal market forces.
Since no other “innovations” seem to have come out of the conference, it looks like its real purpose was to get a group together to publicly blame the ABA for forcing law schools to produce students who know next to nothing about how to practice law.
For instance, in addition to the anti-ABA arguments above, Northwestern’s Dean David Van Zandt also accused the ABA of “stifling change” and forcing law schools to “build an Acura instead of a Corolla.”