Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Kizmet, Jul 19, 2017.
the next step?
Distance learning standards under consideration by ABA Legal Ed Section
I commented on the article, but I'll share it here too:
Comments like Craig M. Boise's are a perfect example of why so many people think that ABA accreditation is about maintaining a cartel rather than about academic quality.
If a whole year of law school is a waste, then don't require the year, or require something that is actually useful.
Same thing with the ABA's archaic resistance to distance learning. There's voluminous evidence that there's no significance difference in educational outcomes between classroom-based and online instruction. By insisting on seat time, the ABA is focused on the wrong end of the student.
I think it's just a matter of time before the ABA caves on allowing major DL components to an ABA-accredited curriculum.
Now, there are some courses that should have residential components, such as oral arguments & moot court, but I can't think of a single compelling reason why many other courses couldn't be done by DL these days.
I agree with this and would go one step further. As far as I know, most lawyers don't ever even try to become trial lawyers and many can go their entire careers without ever appearing in a courtroom. It's all contracts, negotiations and lawsuits that get settled out of court. There is no question that there is an art to being a trial lawyer but the importance of that whole moot court thing is possibly overblown for most attorneys and they could skip it without much of a loss.
Agreed, and I think that highlights a flaw in professional licensing in general. Anyone who passes the exam and is admitted to the bar can theoretically defend someone accused of first-degree murder as soon as they're licensed. Most prosecutors would challenge this, so there's not an avenue for appeal for inexperienced/ineffective counsel, but it's perfectly legal. One of Charles Manson's defense lawyers (Ronald Hughes) graduated from an unaccredited, CA-approved law school and had just passed the bar when he took Manson's case.
Likewise, any licensed physician can prescribe any medication they want. A psychiatrist can prescribe Oxycontin, and an OB/GYN can prescribe Haldol or some other powerful anti-psychotic drug.
Maybe it's time to allow for specialty-specific licensing? In other words, you'd need a special bar license or an endorsement on your license to go into court to litigate cases?
As in the UK? Barristers / Solicitors? Do you really think that's necessary?
Not necessary but likely advisable. Let's ink about this...
I graduate from a US law school, I pass the bar and I can open my own practice all in the same week. Unlike the physician with the prescription pad, that lawyer didn't complete a residency. They can find themselves in court arguing a case despite the fact that they've never argued a case in court before. Some schools have extensive clinics so their graduates can hit the ground running. Others? Not so much.
A law license is a law license. It doesn't reflect your specialized training. I could focus all of my electives in admiralty law and yet open a practice immediately that handles criminal cases.
Look at small firm websites. See how many of them have been in practice for decades and never worked for another attorney.
If we divided it up or, a little less dramatic, made litigation a special license endorsement then I'd say that new system would open wide the gates for DL. Want to write wills or specialize in contracts? No problem. Want to be a litigator? Ok, you need some residencies.
Here's how lawyers qualify to specialize in any of 16 different aspects of the law, where I live. Right from their governing body, the Law Society of Upper Canada. Does it give you any useful ideas?
About the Certified Specialist Program | The Law Society of Upper Canada
Seems backward to me. If a law school graduate wants to specialize in estate work then I'd like that graduate to be able to get right to work. Here, 7 years in practice before they can apply for the qualification. Seems more like a tummy rub for experienced attorneys (and a marketing ploy) more than something that ensures a higher quality education for legal practitioners or a meaningful protection for consumers.
A lot of schools already offer DL classes. It's just that there is no DL JD. DL isn't really the fix to legal education. It makes a few things more convenient but doesn't fix it. I think a strong 1/3 of a degree should be able to completed DL. Your 1L year is all the basics so I understand why that needs to be "but in seat". The electives should be DL though.
You guy are somewhat right in that we can come right out of the gate and practice whatever. Every state has Professional Rules of Ethics. Every state that I know of hows a competency requirement. Very few attorneys would be competent to try a murder case from day 1. I've heard of judges not allowing lawyers to proceed if they felt rights weren't being protected.
I'm a litigator. There's only about 10 from my class that I know are litigators. It's rare. Most of my friends do office work and will probably never see a courtroom. I'm working on a course to DL trial skills for my high school team that I coach. There are some obstacles. I don't see how DL could handle the "on the spot" corrects that need to be done in order to get things refined to the desired point.
My school required a clinic. More schools are leaning toward that. Even without that most students do some form of internship 1L and/or 2L summers so they it's not like they have absolutely not knowledge. In reality we should probably do like UK/Canada and do like like the page system (I think that's what they call it). Instead of 3 years of academics. Make it 2 (or 1) years and then a 1 year OJT. Most law schools teach you federal law. So you normally take a bar review course. Pass the bar and then learn the state specific stuff so it's like starting all over again.
Of course, wills and contracts can run into the millions of dollars and effect the quality of life for many people. Arguably they are more serious than standing in front of a judge and defending someone who got in a bar fight, a DUI or some other criminal offense where the penalty is probably templated automatically. I'm just saying...
That's a fair point and I agree, generally, moot court or trial advocacy should be live and in person (though people have been using online and digital means to conduct all manner of business presentations and legal work such as depositions for a generation), but my law school didn't require trial advocacy, it was an elective (and we had a great tril advocacy program, ranked top 10 by US News). There's not a single bit of law school that couldn't be done 100% online. Absolutely NOTHING.
Generally true. I did some trial work, but a good 80% of what I did was settling cases and reviewing contracts. Absolutely nothing like the movies.
Your argument seems plausible. I have a buddy who went on to become an attorney. He pretty much learned going to "court" on his own! I think he specializes in workmen's comp. He has his own practice, and is actually doing well, but still, it makes me wonder how many "Guniea pigs" /Clients he had to experiment on to become proficient in his trade. How many people lost their cases because of his lack of true "court" experience? I don't know. It makes me wonder though.
He couldn't get a job at a law firm, so he had to open his own practice, or hang his shingle on the roof so to speak. It's kind of like that movie where that little short guy from New York finally won the case. I think he used to the phrase "Yuts" instead of youths. because he had a NY accent in a small town. :smile:
I never said it wasn't important. I said that one requires more soft skills, like public speaking. I NEVER said that one is more important than the other. I simply said that if we divided up the profession, as is done in some countries, one area lends itself to DL better than the other (which would, at a minimum, require some residencies to make sure you don't start wetting yourself and stammering whenever you speak in front of a group).
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