I think the ABA should require all law school graduates to give 2-3 years of supervised P.I. service before they can work in firms. Under such a protocol, students could still sit for the bar but complete a required "residency" before being allowed to practice - as is the case with the two-year minimum residency requirement imposed on med school graduates.
For once, people who traditionally lack access to legal representation and the courts would have it, firms would not need to spend as much time training lawyers, and the suckers who don't really want to be lawyers could be weeded out by the process. Students who choose to work in underserved geographic areas (such as rural Arkansas, Compton or Houston's 3rd Ward) could be given special stipends or bonuses paid by the government upon completion.
Wow. I really like this proposal.
I don't. Are you going to suspend my loan payments AND stop them from accruing interest during those 2-3 years while I'm making $35K a year (or whatever PI jobs pay)? For that matter, where are these courts and PI organizations going to get the money to fund this? From speaking with my friends who want to do PI, it seems like they don't have enough money to hire people who actually want to do PI as it is. Even if you do get funding and you do suspend the program, that means I'm going to earn about $250K to $375K less during my lifetime than I would have if I went right to work at a traditional firm (knock on wood) and did some pro bono work on the side. That's a big deal, especially if you're a student who has a family to support.
You mentioned weeding out "the suckers who don't really want to be lawyers"...what about those of us who do want to be lawyers but just have 0 interest in doing PI work? I have no interest in it, and I have done a decent amount of volunteer work in the past, including two years for an AmeriCorps program.
I think compulsory volunteer work programs can also do a disservice to organizations, because then volunteer work is seen (at least by some people) as something you "have" to do rather than as something you should want to do.
ETA: I see that you said some people could be exempt...that still doesn't seem fair. I guess I could get around this though by popping out a baby early than I planned to, like during 3L year. It would probably make more sense financially in the long run.
You basically just explained most of the things that make medical residency so difficult. 200K in debt with 3-7 years of residency at 40K per year. Loans NOT deferred unless you qualify for economic hardship, which is limited to 3 years. Federal govt funds a large portion of the training through Medicare funding (so, actually, the public pays for it through their taxes) and the rest comes from the academic training centers. Most patients are low income, uninsured, indigent patients as a requirement by the feds. But, the upsides are multifold. For society, we all benefit from a large perpetual cohort of physicians to care for them in hospitals and clinics throughout the country. For practices, who don't have to pay to train physicians, which would cost a ton and the "education" would not be standardized to ensure comprehensive training. Afterall, if you were to undergo a residency-type training program as a newly minted lawyer, you would likely learn a TON because the educational programs would be designed to give you a breadth of experiences and likely give you MUCH more supervised autonomy than many newly minted lawyers currently get. And, thus, trainees also benefit from the residency training despite the financial downsides. I can't imagine how many diagnoses I would have missed or screwed up without 3 years of residency training. Sure, I would have started making more money from the get-go but my confidence would have been much lower and the pressure would have been much higher. Of course, there are things about medicine that are not similar to law... like, you can kill someone with a poor decision in medicine. But, you can really screw up someone's life in the law with a poor decision... so, it still matters. I love the above proposal! Though, I can tell you , I would NOT be going back to law school right now if I knew I would have to go through another EFFING residency program afterward! That is FOR SURE! So, I am thankful the above proposal will not apply to me.