U.S. law schools are in a crisis, according to the draft report of a task force for the schools' accrediting agency, the American Bar Association.

The system faces considerable pressure, the report says, because of the:

  • Price many students pay,

  • Large amounts of student debt,

  • Consecutive years of sharply falling applications, and

  • Dramatic changes, possibly structural, in the jobs available to law graduates.

    These have resulted in "economic stresses on law schools, damage to career and economic prospects of many recent graduates, and diminished public confidence in the system of legal education," the report said.

    The group saw a particularly compelling predicament for many students and recent graduates who may never find the sort of jobs they anticipated when they entered their law schools.

    As a result, the task force recommended that:

  • Law schools change pricing and financial aid systems that now award scholarships to top-scoring recruits, regardless of their need, and require students with lower scores to pay full freight.

  • The American Bar Association repeal or loosen some of its accreditation rules to allow law schools to innovate and vary their curriculum, while encouraging "more attention to services, outcomes and value delivered to law students."


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  • Law schools continue to add more skills-based and real-world training.

  • Licensing people -- other than those with traditional law degrees -- to give limited services at a lower cost to help many Americans who need legal help but cannot afford a lawyer.

    The full draft report of the bar's Task Force on the Future of Legal Education is at http://bit.ly/1atramK.