Today the New York Times has a debate among legal scholars considering whether three years of law school, followed by the bar exam, should be required to enter the legal profession.
The best contribution is from libertarian George Leef, who argues that we should allow anyone to take the bar exam. As he points out, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most lawyers didn’t go to law school at all; they just apprenticed and learned how to practice law by working in a law firm. There’s no reason why this couldn’t be so now — except, of course, that the legal profession has been cartelized by the American Bar Association. Leef’s proposal would be an appropriate first step toward the libertarian ideal, which wouldn’t even require a bar exam.
Meanwhile, it’s funny to see law professors try to defend the status quo, arguing, almost in as many words, that students should be thrilled to pay $200,000 for three years of left-wing indoctrination and shouldn’t care so much about whether they’ll be able to practice law afterward — which probably they won’t be able to, at least not at a salary that comes anywhere near those of their privileged professors.