SIDEBAR Summer 2021 - 13

Young Lawyers
Section Update
Rethinking the Bar
Admission Process
By Christopher Sperring, Esq., Treasurer, Young Lawyers Section
oung lawyers face a lot of struggles. Often, they struggle
with stress and anxiety when they realize law school
really did not teach them how to be a lawyer. They
struggle with clients and opposing counsel not taking them
seriously. For many young lawyers, there is also the struggle
with crippling student loan debt combined with a saturation
of attorneys that causes downward pressure on earnings. What
can be done?
The solution is to go back in time. We need to end our
reliance on law schools and the bar exam. Attorneys almost
universally agree that law school does not teach you how to be
a lawyer. So why do we demand people go through four years
of undergraduate study and three years of law school? What
do students learn in undergrad that really prepares them for
law school?
Law degrees should be converted to undergraduate degrees
like other countries around the world. After graduation, the
traditional route of bar admission should be reinvigorated.
While some form of a " bar exam " has existed since the 1760s,
it used to be that you had to first go through a period of study
with a practicing attorney or judge before the exam. When
deemed ready, the " exam " was performed by a sitting judge
who made the decision whether to admit you.
Reforming law degrees to traditional undergraduate
programs and requiring a period of clerkship with a practicing
attorney or judge helps both young lawyers and the entire
legal profession. First, undergraduate degrees typically cost less
money than law school. Students can receive four years of legal
education at a lower cost, relieving anxiety from outrageously
high student loans. Second, undergraduate legal programs
provide more opportunity for would-be lawyers to decide
whether this is the right career before making the oppressive
financial commitment to law school.
Next, reverting to traditional bar admission benefits young
attorneys and our profession by weeding out bad apples
who believe success is accomplished by being narcissistic,
combative, and arrogant. Mandating a period of clerkship
with a judge or attorney before admission will make unlikely
that practicing attorneys will put their own reputations at risk
by " vouching " for these types of individuals.
Finally, a traditional process has two further benefits.
It would desaturate the profession and drive up earnings.
Second, it would provide better hands-on experience than law
school. There is a saying that it takes 10,000 hours of practice
to say you are experienced in your craft. How much better
would our profession be if a larger portion of those 10,000
hours were earned before admission rather than attorneys
floundering for their first 3 ½ to 5 years after?
Young lawyers face a lot of struggles. But the struggles
we face can be solved through meaningful reform to our
profession. These kinds of reforms can only bolster our
profession as a whole, for when the young are taught well
then their success breeds success. We must do better at
actually teaching young attorneys if we are going to make our
profession better.
SUMMER 2021 13

SIDEBAR Summer 2021

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