Yesterday I found myself involved in a conversation with a lawyer who has been admitted to the Ontario bar for MORE THAN 50 YEARS! Yes, she is still has an active law practice. Interestingly, she is one of the few remaining sole general practitioners in a large urban area. She works on her own (well, she has an administrative assistant) and serves clients in a general way. She manages “every day” legal problems. She is one of the best lawyers I know. But, she is a “jack of all trades” and perhaps a “master of none”. (Or maybe she is a master of all?).
In any event, we were discussing how the practice of law has changed. We were also discussing how the the “paralegal professions” has gradually absorbed the kind of work that general practitioners used to do.
There are lots of people who want to do legal work. It is clear that “paralegals” do substantial legal work” but are NOT lawyers. Might this be of interest to some of you?
The above tweet references an article which appeared in the Wall Street Journal on March 31, 2016.
The overall theme of the article is that because grades are no longer a reliable indicator of student abilities, then standardized tests are the only thing that schools really have.
An excerpt from the article includes:
It might seem unfair that admissions officers place almost as much weight on a one-morning test as they do on grades from four years of high school, as a 2011 survey from the National Association for College Admissions Counseling showed. But there’s a simple reason for this emphasis on testing: Policy makers and educators have effectively eliminated all the other ways of quantifying student performance.
Classroom grades have become meaningless. Last year a public-school district in northern California decided to score on an “equal interval scale”—meaning every letter grade is assigned a 20-point range. Students who score above 80% get an A. Only those below 20% will be given an F. This is only part of a larger trend.
A comment to the article included:
I have never recruited for an academic institution, but I have done a great deal for businesses. When recruiting for entry level technical or management career path positions, SAT, ACT, GRE, LSAT and other competitive standardized tests are great indicators of a candidate’s general mental “horsepower” and ability to learn relative to other candidates. Grades by subject matter areas give an idea of where a candidate’s interests and proclivities are. The presence of difficult subject matter courses, even with mediocre grades, gives a sense for work ethic. Extracurricular activities give an idea of a candidate’s psychological balance and social engagement. Absent a work history, these indicators, supplemented with personal interview results, work pretty well to predict success when matched up with job requirements. Businesses look at SATs and the rest because the information they convey is very predictive of performance.
This debate has been going on since the beginning of the standardized testing industry.
The above tweet references an article about a law school graduate who sued a law school on the grounds that the school misrepresented the employment prospects.
The article included:
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A jury found Thursday that a San Diego law school did not mislead a graduate who sued on the grounds she was lured to the school by false promises that her degree would land her a job after graduating.
The San Diego Superior Court jury rejected Anna Alaburda’s claim against the Thomas Jefferson School of Law on a 9-3 vote that was reached after about four hours of deliberations over two days.
While more than a dozen similar lawsuits have been filed in courts across the country, the case is believed to be the first of its kind to go to trial.
Alaburda, who filed her lawsuit in 2011, argued that Thomas Jefferson used inflated data to bolster the success rate of its job-seeking graduates. The 37-year-old woman graduated near the top of her class in 2008 and says she has been unable to find a full-time job as a lawyer. Meanwhile, she said has been saddled with $170,000 in student debt. She sought $125,000 in damages.
The trial came amid growing debate over such promises by schools competing to recruit students. The lawsuit was among more than a dozen similar ones filed in recent years against law schools, including Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco and the University of San Francisco School of Law. Though most of the lawsuits have been dismissed, critics say they point to a need for greater regulation and transparency for law schools, so prospective students know their employment prospects, the debt they will incur and their chances of successfully passing the bar.
Michael Sullivan, an attorney for the law school, acknowledged “isolated mistakes” and “clerical errors” in data collection but said there was no evidence that the school lied. He said the verdict set no precedent but may send a signal to other students who sue. “Having an opportunity where it’s fully litigated, and depositions and documents examined, to see the hype, the chatter about that did not prove to be the truth, as found by a jury, I think that’s a helpful message,” Sullivan told reporters after the verdict.
Why should the American Bar Association control entry into the legal profession?
There is no reason at all. The presumption of three years of law school is an American tradition. Although Canada now requires three years of law school, this was NOT always so. Prior to the mid 1950s, in Canada people become lawyers NOT by attending law school, but by a process of “Articling”. “Articling” is a “law office apprenticeship” and IS STILL required (in addition to law school) as part of the process of becoming a lawyer in Canada.
By the way, Foreign law school graduates who want to become a lawyer in Canada should read here!
All the U.S. law school market may be recovering, U.S.law enrollments are still below what they once were. For law schools: students mean revenue and revenue is needed to prosper.
The law school at SUNY Buffalo is offering a “Two year J.D.” for graduates of law schools outside the United States. This program may be of interest to SOME “foreign law graduates” who are navigating the “NCA Route” and seeking bar admission in Canada.
The article referenced in the above tweet covers a lot of ground and is interesting. As you know, the number of applications to law schools in the United States has fallen over the last few years. Obviously, it’s easier to “get in to” to U.S. law schools than it was. (This is not true in Canada which has such a small number of law schools.)
In any case, you will find this article to be an interesting read.
At least two studies, including one this year that examined admissions exam scores from 2000 to 2011, have concluded that scores on the test, administered by the Law School Admission Council, closely track later bar passage rates.
Mr. McEntee of Law School Transparency, a graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School, said his group’s recent study showed that many schools were admitting students whose lack of legal aptitude made them vulnerable to failing the bar. And, at the same time, they are incurring six-figure student debt that will weigh them down in the future.
The steady erosion in admissions scores between 2010 and 2014, Mr. McEntee, said in his study, is “directly linked to the falling bar exam passage rates in many states.”