Which supports my main principle – it’s NOT the school that makes the attorney, it’s the students in how s/he applies themselves – the school provides the direction.
I agree with you there, to a degree.
The thing is, with ABA approved schools, we literally use exactly the same books. We all cover exactly the same subjects. The 1L sequence, at virtually every ABA accredited law school, is essentially identical. Our professors come from exactly the same schools. Yes, the class at Harvard probably does dig a little deeper into topics. Maybe they cover a little more material, but not much. Their Torts course and the one at a 4T aren't really that different.
Their students are, but the courses aren't. Their library is probably worlds better than the library at my school. So, maybe they have more resources, and that justifies saying that the experience is better. The classrom experience, though? Probably not that different.
With an unaccredited school, it's possible that you're using all the same materials and you have profs from all the same schools. Trouble is, that's not generally what I've observed. If you do, then great. I agree. It's entirely likely that the very best student at an unaccredited school is every bit as good as the very best student at a 4T or 3T. Heck, probably in the ballpark of what the very best students would be like at a 1T or 2T.
Thing is, there seems to be a pretty big difference between what is taught and how. For instance, a while back one poster commented that she was covering 300 cases or somesuch, in one of her classes. That would be an astronomical number of cases. However, she later revealed that her textbook was Legalines or something of the sort. She wasn't even actually using an actual textbook. She was using a study aid. I find it very, very hard to believe that a person who was going through law school this way would have had the same educational experience (or approximately the same educational experience) as a 1L at Harvard.
A crappy 1T/2T student will be just as “uncompetitive” as someone in the lower 90% of a 4T school, I suspect.
I have said the school attended will have an effect on job competition – that’s reality – I understand even though I don’t agree, but to say just because someone opts for an alternative approach (online, law clerk program, apprentice with a judge/lawyer) to studying the law makes them less capable and should be disqualified from taking a bar exam – even when heir are those who have do so and practice successfully – is shortsighted in their view and elitist in their thinking.
Yeah, I see your point and to a degree, I agree with you. Face it, the law is a profession and one aspect of a profession is always to try to limit the number of people who practice that profession. Heck, you can't even be a plumber in my neck of the woods unless you're connected, probably by blood.
My full opinion on this is that anybody who can pass the bar should be an attorney. However, in my world, the bar would be a lot harder to pass. Here's the difficulty: as a thumbnail, it appears that bar passage rates for nontrads is pretty poor. Might be on order of only 10 or 20% of people who graduate from a nontrad program can pass the bar.
So, if the world were what I envision, with a much harder bar exam, who knows, maybe folks at 4Ts like me would see that only 40% of the class would pass the bar, but then, what, 5% or 10% of the folks from the nontrad programs?
To me the problem isn't that a person from a nontrad program can't be a good attorney. Heck, Abraham Lincoln is one of the most famous attorneys in the history of the nation and he never once set foot in a law school as a student.
It's that we shouldn't encourage people to embark on programs of study where there is, at best, a minimal chance of success.
Granted, some people will still want to fight the odds, but when you're talking about such a low percentage of people being able to even meet minimal demonstrated knowledge on the bar, I don't see how it's unreasonable for states to close this door.
For instance, if there were a medical school where only 10% of the grads could pass state boards, would it be unreasonable for a state to shut down the medical school, or if they couldn't, to say that graduates from that school are not allowed to practice in a state?
It's hard to build a rule around an exception and the nontrad law student who can pass the bar is an exception.
Also, education is not entirely about education. In fact, it's probably equally about credentialing. (Some would argue that it's not about education at all, and is almost entirely about credentialling.)
Society really can't individually evaluate people so we use processes to stand in the stead of individual evaluation. To me, the low bar passage rate of nontrad programs is probably somewhat due to an inherently inferior educational process, but is probably more largely related to the fact that entrance standards aren't very rigorous. (I think at some of the California schools, all you need is an associate's degree, for instance.)
Basically, when the ABA accredited schools accept somebody, they're accepting a person with a 90% chance of passing the bar, after a program of study.
When a nontrad accepts somebody, they're accepting a person with a 20% chance of passing the bar, after a program of study.
Again, when states try to make a rule, do they really want to build it around an exception? Heck, I bet a lot of former combat medics could easily step into a hospital and do absolutely everything an RN could do. Are states wrong to require that a person complete an RN program of study before being allowed to be an RN?
Some people are really safe drivers at 80 mph. Some are unsafe at 45. Still, we have speed limits and we expect all of society to adhere to them.
That's the crux of the matter. It's not that anybody wants to be unfair or discriminate. It's that there are standards, and frankly, I don't see how the standards are unreasonable. They're not perfect, but they're not unfair.