By Richard Vedder
I was chatting this morning in London with a good friend of mine whose son is finishing up a law degree in England at age 20, plans to go on to a quality American law school, which will grant him a year's transfer credit, and get a J.D. degree at age 22. Instead of 4 + 3 year program, he will go for 2 + 2 years --43 percent less time. How does he do it?
British students can enter law school directly from high school. The reasoning is that a person with a good high school diploma should have the minimal general education necessary to practice law. Most British law schools, like American ones, are for 3 years. Students go to school for 3 10-week terms annually for 3 years, or a total of 90 weeks. But the University of Buckingham goes for 45 weeks a year for two years --same 90 weeks, one less calendar year. Moreover, many good U.S. law schools will give a year of credit for the British legal training, allowing the student to receive the Juris Doctor degree in two more years --or by 22 --giving the student 3 years more of work experience, saving thousands of dollars in tuition and other expenses, etc. etc.
The University of Buckingham is Britain's only private university, and it is run by a world renown scientist and scholar, Terence Keeley, once of Cambridge but now Vice Chancellor (equivalent of president) of Buckingham. Terence is a remarkable man (I once visited him at his home in Cambridge, and consider him a friend). Are British lawyers worse than American ones? I doubt it very much. Why don't we do the same thing? Because the accrediting agencies especially the ABA, would no doubt oppose it, as would the bar associations wanting to restrict competition. Shame shame shame. If we are going to ignore Shakespeare's injunction to "kill all the lawyers," at least we can reduce the burden on society, and themselves, of educating them.