Two Year Law Degree — UK Experiment and Questions for US Legal Education

Richard Moorhead, in his LawyerWatch blog discusses the new UK two year law degree offered by the College of Law, which was originally founded by the law society (bar association).  Most of the UK discussion seems to be about the practicability (annual cost of about $15K for these two years without, after this year, government loans, and no time to work.)

As I understand it, this degree would be earned after the equivalent of high school, meaning you could get to practice with two years of this education after high school, plus a year for a professional degree, plus a year or two of practice, for a total of four of five years, compared with the seven years in the US.  However that four or five year total includes at least one year of supervised practice (clerkship) — which of course is not required in the US..

Without getting into all the details, it really does raise the question whether we need the full three years of law school after college, and what the cost of all that time does to the price of legal services, particularly for middle income communities, given the loan burdens that accumulate for most students.

If we do keep a three year program, shouldn’t people graduate law school knowing far more than they do about how to actually service clients.  See my prior blog on the transition from law school to middle income practice.  See also the fascinating and suggestive history of Harvard’s Legal Services Center, originally set up as a third year of intensive legal aid clinical practice and learning.  It was a great program that lasted only one year two years!  At the time it was thought that the model of an intense clinical year might be adapted to legal education for other kinds of practice, including even corporate.  Those ideas have really been lost and legal education innovation feels to me to have stagnated.

About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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1 Response to Two Year Law Degree — UK Experiment and Questions for US Legal Education

  1. A current Boston model for interweaving real world experience into the law school degree is Northeastern Law School’s Co-op Program: http://www.northeastern.edu/law/co-op/index.html

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