According to Cohen, former University of Chicago Law School Dean Geoffrey Stone labels the two year program "irresponsible," saying it may produce "inferior lawyers who haven't had time to develop intellectual and analytical skills." Other scoffers were also quoted.
Pardon me while I scoff at the scoffers.
Mind you, I'm not buying into Northwestern Dean David Van Zandt's sales pitch. He says, according to Cohen, that the new program will be different in that it will require courses in "quantitative reasoning, including accounting, finance and statistics; and the dynamics of legal services behavior, including skills such as teamwork, leadership and project management."
News Bulletin for Ivory Tower Academics such as Professors Van Zandt and Stone and their other, equally prestigious colleagues quoted in Ms. Cohen's story this morning:
Ladies and gentlemen, law school is a scam. Law school is three extra, entirely unnecessary years of tuition leading to a degree that is completely useless unless you pass the bar exam. (The "better" the law school -- that is, the more highly ranked and expensive the law school, the less likely it is that you will ever take even a single course that provides helpful preparation for that inevitable bar exam. Even at "second tier" schools, the snobs who run the places frown on so-called "bar courses" -- but the folks who attend these institutions are smart enough to take these courses anyway. This is why the pass rate for the allegedly "best" schools often lags behind those of the "lesser" schools.)
Every state requires would-be lawyers to take and pass the bar exam. But in order to get a seat for the bar exam -- in almost every state -- you have to have a degree from one of these ABA-accredited law schools.
So -- you get a degree and mountain of debt and all you have to show for it is a ticket to sit in on the bar exam. But, especially if you went to a fancy-pants law school, you have no way of actually passing that exam without taking the bar review course. So... you sign up for that, too.
And, now, finally, at the end of this process, after blowing your parents' dough or mortgaging your future to the hilt (or both), you have passed the bar. And what do you know about the practice of law? Three little words:
I suspect that a bright high school graduate with decent language skills could take the bar review course and pass the exam in virtually any state. I'd bet money that almost every reasonably bright college graduate could do so, without ever listening to even one lecture by some professor who's never seen the inside of a courthouse claim he's teaching you to "think like a lawyer."
One other point about today's Tribune article.
The article reveals that students in Northwestern's traditional three year program faced a $42,672 for the academic year just concluded. I'll pause while you let the enormity of that number roll around in your head.
$42,672! My first year law school tuition, some 30 years ago (and not at Northwestern), was just under $2,000. And it was outrageous then.
$42,672! And here's the punchline: Van Zandt told the Tribune's Cohen that school officials 'have not decided' whether students in the two year program will pay the same as those in the three year program.
Does anybody want to make a bet?