Bringing Back Apprenticeships?

– “The average debt burden for a graduate of a private law school totals approximately $125,000.” 
Yeah. Can’t argue with that.
“It’s hard to say whether apprenticeship is better or worse than law school, at least when you take cost into account. True, apprentices fail the bar exam at a much higher rate than graduates of A.B.A.-accredited law schools, but at least they don’t have the same debt burdens as law school grads.”
Lat is essentially saying that it’s better to have poor job prospects and no debt than to have better job prospects and a mountain of debt. Taking law schools with at-graduating employment rates of 90% or more out of the equation, there’s validity to this argument. Still, that logic doesn’t work for people who want law degrees in order to achieve higher statuses in society. Plus, a new Kaplan survey found that a sizable number of students value prestige over cost-friendliness.
– “If law schools, which have already suffered significant enrollment declines, start losing potential students (and tuition revenue) to apprenticeship programs, they will feel competitive pressure to enhance their offerings, lower their costs, or both.” 
The argument makes sense, considering the fact that a number of law schools have already began cutting tuition.
– “Apprentices will probably find it difficult to obtain access to the legal profession’s most coveted opportunities, such as elite judicial clerkships and positions at major law firms.” 
True. Fortunately, not everyone wants a job like that.
“An apprenticeship is a sensible pathway to the legal profession because an essential way to be trained as a lawyer is by engaging in supervised legal tasks in actual legal settings.”
Coming from a law professor—even one as critical of law schools as Tamanaha—that’s a solid endorsement.
– “Unfortunately, apprenticeships are perceived as inferior, rather than as a legitimate alternative means to becoming a lawyer.”
Therein lies the problem both Chemerinsky and Lat touched on.
– “An ideal combination would be apprenticeship programs set up by state bar associations for people who take just one year of law school, covering basic doctrinal knowledge and research and writing skills, followed by two years in a paid apprenticeship, then sitting for the bar exam.” 
Like a certain Disney Channel character, Tamanaha wants the best of both worlds: He wants law students to study the foundations of the legal system in school and to gain practical experience in apprenticeships.
Tamanaha presented the most nuanced plan for incorporating apprenticeships into the current system. The question is, would state bar associations—or the American Bar Association, for that matter—accept such a change, even if it’s gradually implemented? Unfortunately, law schools might have to hit true rock bottom before anything changes. It’s how most people are, after all.

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