Illinois bar calls current legal education system ‘unsustainable’

March 13, 2013
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Illinois State Bar Association created a special committee to look at how law school debt is impacting the delivery of legal services. The committee’s report was recently released and its findings are unsurprising: debt from law school is a “crushing burden on new lawyers.”

After holding statewide hearings and hearing people’s experiences, the committee concluded that the law school debt crisis is having a serious and negative impact on the quality and availability of legal services in Illinois. The average student graduates with $100,000 in law school debt, which can balloon up to $200,000 when factoring in interest, undergraduate debt and bar study loans.

The report lists the cost of tuition and the average amount of debt law students have from schools in neighboring states. Based on the figures, law students here can expect to owe at least $90,000 on law school loans.

Some highlights from the 53-page report:

•    Small law firms have trouble hiring and retaining competent attorneys because of school debt;
•    Less lawyers are able to work in public interest positions;
•    Attorneys with high student loan debt are less likely to engage in pro bono work;
•    Debt keeps young attorneys out of rural areas;
•    The high debt is impacting diversity in the legal profession; and
•    Those with heavy debt loads are more likely to commit ethics violations.

The committee made a series of recommendations to address the debt problems and attempt to transform legal education to focus on educating lawyers at a lower cost. Those include:

Congress and the Department of Education placing reasonable limits on the amount law students can borrow from the federal government;
The American Bar Association should revise its accreditation standards; and law schools must reform their curricula to focus on educating lawyers for practice. This is something that the Indiana law schools are working toward,  including soon-to-open Indiana Tech Law School.

The Illinois State Bar Association also suggests that qualified law students be able to take the bar exam in the February of their third year, which would mean they wouldn’t have to pay to study for the bar exam after graduation and delay entering the workforce. The Arizona Supreme Court recently adopted a similar proposal.

Here’s a link to the full report.  What do you think about the Illinois State Bar’s findings?

I imagine that the issues facing Illinois attorneys mirror that of most law school graduates here and across the country.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. Hey 2 psychs is never enough, since it is statistically unlikely that three will ever agree on anything! New study admits this pseudo science is about as scientifically valid as astrology ... done by via fortune cookie ....John Ioannidis, professor of health research and policy at Stanford University, said the study was impressive and that its results had been eagerly awaited by the scientific community. “Sadly, the picture it paints - a 64% failure rate even among papers published in the best journals in the field - is not very nice about the current status of psychological science in general, and for fields like social psychology it is just devastating,” he said. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/aug/27/study-delivers-bleak-verdict-on-validity-of-psychology-experiment-results

  2. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  3. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  4. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

  5. Baer filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on April 30 2015. When will this be decided? How many more appeals does this guy have? Unbelievable this is dragging on like this.

ADVERTISEMENT