Law schools across the United States are desperately trying to repair their broken images because of reports that have been released about falsifying graduation statistics. The statistics that have been falsified include how many graduates acquire jobs once out of school and how much they are making in those jobs. Law schools are graduating with six figures in debt, no job, and almost no prospects.
In previous years, law school students did not have to know much about their profession. In fact, if the graduate knew how to research and write along with the fundamentals of legal documents, then he or she would be an excellent hire for law firms. The reason for this was that law firms were able to charge clients for time spent on teaching associates in their first and second years on the job about how to practice law.
The Wall Street Journal pointed out that more and more companies are less likely to subsidize on the job training for brand new employees. This means that employees working jobs out of school might not know as much about their job as in years past. A survey was conducted recently regarding in-house legal counsel, and the data shows that 20 percent of companies are refusing to pay for work by first and second year lawyers. Experts feel that this number will only continue to grow in size over the next couple of years.
Some law firms across the country have seen their profits reduce, which has caused them to shift to somewhat of an apprenticeship for new lawyers at the firms. These firms have less money to hire younger attorneys, or those directly out of school, because they simply cannot afford to pay them while they learn on the job. This means that more and more students who would have applied for jobs at law firms are now working in government offices and public interest positions.
An idea has been thrown around recently and it involves the creation of a coalition of elite law firms. Those law firms should approach the Ivy League Law Schools in the country and let them know that if they do not update their curriculums then the firms will no longer hire those schools’ graduates. On the other side of things, they could tell lower-ranked law schools that if they change their curriculum then their graduates would be hired much more often by the elite law firms. The results for this would be highly dramatic because a law school’s reputation is determined by where its graduates are hired. The more graduates hired by elite law firms, the more applicants the school will receive each year.
The American Bar Association permits accreditation to law schools across the country but they will not force schools to change their curriculum to update with the times.