As the legal field continues to expand, general practitioners are expected to know more in their respective fields to better assist their clients. A lawyer is expected to enhance their knowledge by keeping up with the evolution of the legal sector. Harry Arthurs recognizes the dangers that future lawyers may face in The Future of Legal Education: Three Visions and a Prediction.
He suggests a possible option where “The bar may one day recognize not just one class of members, but many. Members of each class would have different educational credentials…that general practitioners will one day be licensed to appear as advocates in certain tribunals and the lower courts, and to do routine real estate transactions, simple incorporations and uncontested divorces—but not undertake appellate litigation, patent applications or tax planning”.
He further elaborates “They might offer a skills-based one-year degree for paralegals, a stripped-down tow-year ‘basic’ degree for general practitioners, an enhanced four year degree for specialist practitioners, and conversion courses for those who want to upgrade their credentials”.
On the one hand, I can see this as a form of specialization in a specific area for law students. Those that know what area of law they want to practice can choose to study that, right from the beginning while avoiding all the unnecessary courses that they will never use for their chosen area of practice.
However, on the other hand I see this as undermining the value of legal education and hence a J.D. By creating this separation in the legal education, many of the basic competencies will be omitted from one’s legal education. On a basic level many of the different fields of law interact with each other, and competencies in all these areas are crucial for a practitioner to come up with the best solution for their clients.
There is obviously a wealth of knowledge available in studying law. In my opinion, due to the enhanced level of education required to sufficiently practice in each specific area of law, I think in the future, a LLM in the chosen area of practice will be mandatory after a JD, in order to obtain an articling position in the desired field.
With each area of law expanding everyday, I think it would be ridiculous to cut down on the legal education. The only way to keep up with the evolving nature of the legal sector is to increase the education required, and thus satisfying the necessary requirements of becoming a competent practitioner. Of course, this is just my view. What do you think are some ways our legal education will evolve to better accommodate us in being competent in our areas of practice for the future?