Photo: James Niekamp/LinkedIn
Law schools across the U.S. are expected to receive just 54,000 applications this fall – a nearly 50 per cent drop since 2004, according to the Law School Admission Council.One law student says people have stopped applying to law school because many schools don’t actually prepare students to become lawyers.
“I think a big part of the problem is that a lot of schools don’t provide you with training,” law student James Niekamp recently told Business Insider.
Niekamp is a third-year law student at University of Cincinnati College of Law.
While Cincinnati isn’t a top ranked school nationally, it is widely respected in Ohio. Its extensive clinical program produces students who are actually ready to be lawyers immediately after graduation, Niekamp says.
“If more schools would do something like that, I think we would be better off,” he said.
Niekamp says law schools need to start thinking like medical schools if they want to reverse the current trend and dig themselves out of the hole they’ve created.
Med students take practical, beneficial classes, as opposed to superfluous classes like Asian Studies and the Law, Niekamp says.
His law school is different from many schools, Niekamp says. Cincinnati students get to take clinical classes in which they work with real clients, solving real problems under the supervision of an attorney.
Niekamp’s argument that more law schools should offer practical experience is a popular one.
Legal industry experts have called on the American Bar Association to adopt the same standards for law students as the American Medical Association has for med schools.
NYU Medical School and a few others around the country have started offering students a chance to complete school one year early by getting them into clinical training more quickly, The New York Times has reported.
The ABA would never let law schools do away with a year of law school, according to Above The Law’s Elie Mystal.
“Medical schools are regulated by the American Medical Association, which bothers to care about the future of health care in this country. Law schools are regulated by the American Bar Association, which cares about… ???” Mystal once wrote.
Even without help from the ABA, law schools need to start offering more practical classes and real-life work opportunities so students feel prepared to enter the cut-throat legal job market.
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