UK Law Grad Suggests New Concept For Law School Education – Not New Buildings

By UK Law School Grad, Stan Billingsley – Class of ‘71

I like the idea of renovating the current UK Law School. But we need other changes in future planning for the UK law school.

The new law palace previously planned assumes that the number of law graduates will increase each year. In the real world I see a saturation of attorneys looking for jobs.

When we had two law schools we were doing fine, but Chase Law School was opened and the number of lawyers has grown dangerously. Today law school graduates can’t find jobs. We don’t need more graduates we need better trained graduates.

When I graduated in 1971 there were about 3,700 lawyers in Kentucky and now there are 17,200 as of 2012. When I got out anyone could hang out a shingle and make a living…not so today.

I understand that a law degree has more uses than the practice of law….but I don’t see any curriculum at law schools training anyone for anything but the practice of law.

In the book The “Godfather”….the Irish kid they took in was sent to law school by the Godfather…but when he graduated he was not allowed to represent the Carleone “Family” until he had worked for a law firm for three years.

Today I see a great need for courses at Law Schools on topics such as:

How to write a deed. How to search a title. How to form a corporation. How to file a bankruptcy. How to write pleadings. and most importantly, How to manage a law office…file worker’s comp. claims, filng tax forms, setting up trust accounts, and how to meet KBA rules for dealing with client’s funds etc. I don’t recall any of those classes back in l971.

These classes are needed today by current lawyers to retrain them for the needs in the marketplace. We need better focused legal education and not just a new building to keep on doing the same old, same old..!

Unless the curriculum has changed, I believe we are still teaching the subject of legal theory…and this is very important…but we would do well if the law schools would provide the “How To” training that even the KBA is not providing. (The KBA CLE program does good work, but their topics are limited to one or two hour lectures and don’t provide comprehensive “How To” training on specific subjects.)

Why couldn’t UK and the other law schools have one week or two week “summer camps” for lawyers at the law schools. The lawyers would be taught the actual skills needed in a law practice. I would suspect that the tuition earned from these “summer camps” for lawyers would easily fund the classes.

I have heard one professor express the opinion that training in the actual practice needs of a lawyer were frowned upon by many law professors. This training is not beneath the dignity of the legal education profession, it is the very essence of the profession.

The idea of building a brand new law palace for UK may have passed it’s moment. The need for a more comprehensive legal education is desperately needed.

I see the current need is a new way to train lawyers to be able to leave the law school and know how to help a client the next day. This should be supplemented with continuing legal education in practical “How To” practice law issues.

The plans for a new building are bold, but in reality, the needs of the legal community has changed.

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