Margaret M. Barry, Jon C. Dubin, and Peter A. Joy, report prepared for PILnet (then Public Interest Law Institute), August 2010.
The first part of this report provides a history of legal education in the United States. It then proceeds to discuss the state of legal education in the United States today.
The authors track the development of legal education, covering: (a) the regime of apprenticeship and self-study; (b) the beginning of law schools at the end of the 18th century; (c) the institution of university-level education requirements in the late 19th century; and (d) the development of law school admission tests in the late 1950s. The remainder of the report looks at the state of legal education in the United States today. It explains such procedural aspects as undergraduate study requirements, the three-year law program, and the Law School Admissions Test. Moreover, the authors explore some of the controversies surrounding the institutions, including barriers to access for minorities, women, and the poor. The report also notes the increasing cost of law school attendance and the effect of the 2008 economic downturn on available high-paying attorney jobs. Finally, the authors discuss the curricula and the role law schools should or should not play in preparing students for the actual practice of law as opposed to passage of the bar exam. The report suggests that more emphasis on clinical experiences would enhance student preparation and competence.