Talk:Legal education in the United States

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Stages of Education Box[edit]

The box on the side that notes the stages of education may be wrong. Since a Doctor of Laws is an honorary degree, it is not a stage of education. However, S.J.D. is a degree, and the terminal one, ergo it should be there rather than Doctor of Laws.Sovereignlance (talk) 07:24, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

JD versus LLB[edit]

Irishtimes 02:29, 28 December 2005 (UTC)--Irishtimes 02:29, 28 December 2005 (UTC) The JD is regarded as a graduate degree in American universities -- of this there is no doubt. But to suggest that the JD is academically superior to the British LLB is another matter. The basis for this claim is that the JD requires a degree for entrance, whereas the LLB is undertaken in the UK from the age of 18. Note that medical education for doctors in the UK also begins at age 18 -- and, similarly, British doctors graduate with a Bacheolor of Medicine (MB) degree rather than a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. In the UK, the MD is a higher degree (a clinical doctorate) requiring research and a dissertation (and requires both medical degrees and professional clinical qualifications, plus experience in practice, for admission). --Irishtimes 02:29, 28 December 2005 (UTC)

I have been in a Bachelor of Arts program (languages) (B.A. 1972), a Ph.D. program (German and linguistics), a J.D. program (J.D. 1981), and a community college program (24 semester hours).
There is a difference. All graduate programs are taught at a substantially more intense level. Undergraduate programs can't be taught at that level because almost no undergrad could handle it. More material is taught in a shorter time, the material is taught more in depth and the student is required to perform to much higher standards. Master's level courses are taught at a more intense level than undergraduate courses and doctoral courses are taught at a more intense level than Masters. Here are two examples:
  • I attended the Ph.D. program at City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center for a year. CUNY has a number of campuses throughout the five counties of New York City. One of my classmates wanted to take a course at a different campus. It was the same course number but was listed as part of that campus' master's degree program. He was told he could take the course under three conditions: (1) The professor had to be someone who taught in the doctoral program; (2) the course had to be listed as an available course in the doctoral program (i.e., if Post-WWII German Poetry was offered in the master's program but not the doctoral program, it would not qualify) and (3) in addition to all the course requirements for the master's program he would have to do an additional paper.
  • When I attended law school, my landlord was studying for his Bachelor of Nursing degree. He said that the same class was listed as three different courses, under three different course numbers: (1) an undergrad Biology course, (2) an undergrad Nursing course and (3) an M.D. program course. He said the only difference was the grading. The Nursing students were graded harsher than the Bio students and the M.D. students were graded hardest.
I can tell you from personal experience that the level of performance required for coursework in a Ph.D. program at a major American university is nowhere near as stringent as an American J.D. program. Several of my classmates who had done substantial coursework at the Ph.D. level said the same thing. Entrants to a J.D. program are expected to already have the writing and analytical skills and well-rounded educational background of a top-level college graduate, whereas Bachelor's programs, even in law, endeavor to create those skills.
Another thing to consider is that the American system has no choice but to be better because there is so much more competition. The American legal system allows lawyers to handle cases on a contingent-fee basis. If someone gets hurt in an automobile accident, he doesn't need to have money to hire a lawyer, and if the lawyer recovers nothing there is no legal fee. As a result, America has about ninety percent of all the litigation in the entire world. I'm not going to get into the pro's and con's of that arrangement, but it does mean that there are far more lawyers, so there are far more highly-trained people examining a problem from every little angle. In the U.S., pretty much every lawyer is now a specialist. In an area where most of the lawyers are generalists, a Bachelor's level of knowledge is sufficient. But in an area where almost everyone is a specialist, the starting level needs to be much greater.
Keep in mind that the real goal is learning to "think like a lawyer". That requires about 18 months of full-time legal study, regardless of the person's previous education. Although an American lawyer fresh out of law school with a J.D. would be more qualified than a British solicitor straight out of school with an LLB, later on at the same age the solicitor would have 3 years of additional experience. Also, the reality is that most law is learned after law school. Five years after graduation, either one of them probably would know about the same amount in their field(s) of practice.
RickReinckens 06:11, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
I continue to find the claim that an academic program which teaches a bunch of 18 year old kids about a profession is equal to one that teaches students who are usually older than 25, many with work experience. The reason why a first degree is required for a JD is because the JD is intended to be an extremely rigorous course of study which requires the academic discipline, maturity and motivation of students who have already completed a university degree. There's a reason why most jurisdictions with the LLB require the graduate to pursue more study or a traineeship (or both) before being licensed to practice law. This is not required in the US. I mean, come on, would you really want to hire a 23 year old fresh LLB graduate as an expert to handle your legal affairs?! The JD is a doctorate, and the LLB is a bachelors--they don't just have those names for fun, ya know. Zoticogrillo (talk) 00:36, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

A note to whoever changed graduate to postbaccalaureate:[edit]

A postbaccalaureate degree is a second baccalaureate. Historically, a law student would attend a four-year undergraduate program culminating in a LL.B., a baccalaureate degree. In the U.S. this is no longer the case (see Juris Doctor). A J.D. is not considered to be a baccalaureate degree, rather it is a graduate degree, which students embark upon only after completing an undergraduate program.

I'm reverting the article back to say "postbaccalaureate". A Juris Doctor was a vanity term (putting it bluntly) introduced in the U.S. to replace the identical credential, the Bachelor of Laws degree, to recognize that LL.B. degree holders had more or less the same time invested in education after high school as M.D. degree holders. Even before the change to J.D. (and likewise after the change), the LL.B. or J.D. program (regardless of its name) was a three year program following a bachelor's degree in another discipline (or 2 or 3 years study towards same). However, neither the Juris Doctor nor the M.D. are graduate degrees. Graduate medical studies begin after the M.D. degree with residency training and possibly M.Sc. and Ph.D. studies. Likewise, the degree LL.M. follows the J.D. Some universities will allow J.D. and M.D. students to join the university's Graduate Students Society out of courtesy even though not graduate students. Some universities call the J.D. and M.D. degrees "professional degrees" to recognize the aggregate study time involved compared to bachelor's degree programs directly open to high school graduates.

--Aquarius rising 00:16, 3 October 2005 (UTC)


Be careful not to clump US and UK law training into one bunch. UK law training is at the undergraduate level and leads to a bachelor's degree in law (LL.B), whereas US law training is a three year graduate program leading to a Juris Doctor (J.D.). The Canadian LL.B may be superior to the UK LL.B, but it is still a bachelor's degree and can be entered into after only two years of undergraduate study. The US rightly considers its law program far superior to that of other countries. I think you will find that all U.S. Universities consider the J.D. to be a graduate degree. Here Berkeley clearly states that a J.D. is a graduate degree & all Law Schools in the US consider the J.D. to be a graduate degree.

Unless you can site some authority that maintains the Juris Doctor is a vanity term for a bachelors degree, please allow this article to refer the the J.D. as a professional or graduate degree. I understand that from your POV the Canadian LL.B and the American J.D. are remarkably similar. From my POV there are important differences between the two degrees. In any case, US universities and law schools consider the J.D. to be a graduate degree. This article is about education of lawyers in the US, so it only seems prudent to use US terminology. The UK LL.B is clearly a bachelors, the Canadian LL.B shares many similarities with the J.D. degree. If you want to start an article about Canadian POV regarding the J.D., I think it would make for an interesting read. I don't think, however, that this is the appropriate article to espouse Canadian POV that conflicts with US degree naming conventions. An M.D. is not a bachelors degree, a J.D. is not a bachelors degree. A Medical Doctor (M.D.) and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) are professional degrees of the graduate level.

To be perfectly clear, graduate programs are those which require a person already have obtained a bachelors degree before they begin. Baccalaureate programs are embarked upon solely at the undergraduate level. Postbaccalaureate programs are those which are embarked upon by graduates even though they are available to undergraduates.


The degree of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) in most common law countries can be embarked upon by those who have only completed a high school level education. Generally, the LL.B is equivalent to a B.A., B.S., or B.F.A. in terms of education (4-5 years undergraduate study). In the US many schools offer a Bachelors of Arts in Legal Studies. LL.B stands for Legum Baccalaureus in Latin. The J.D., on the other hand, is only available to those who have already completed a baccalaureate degree in another subject. J.D. stands for Juris Doctor in Latin. A Juris Doctor is a graduate degree in law.

  • It is not true that "many schools offer a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies". Name ten. Yes, some do. Degrees with similar titles are paralegal degrees, not law degrees.
  • The J.D. degree does not require completion of a baccalaureate degree in another subject. Neither does an M.D., a D.V.M. or a D.D.S. that is a common misconception. All of those degrees only require three years of undergrad coursework. (about 90 semester hours) Check the Education Code of various states.
  • Regarding "graduate degree in law", we are "talking apples and oranges". A J.D. is a "graduate degree". It is not a "graduate degree in law." It is an "first-professional" doctorate, which means, yes, it is a graduate degree. It is not a graduate degree "in law" because it requires no prior education in law. An LLM and a JSD are graduate degrees in law. Check the definitions in the New York State Education Code at the link I added in References.
RickReinckens 06:27, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

I’m not saying that the J.D. isn’t a valuable credential. I agree that, like the M.D., D.D.S., etc, the J.D. is a first-professional doctorate. What I’m questioning are the assertions that the J.D. or for that matter, an M.D. or a D.D.S. degree, is a “graduate” degree.

For example, the Yale University law school site [1] is pretty specific that graduate degrees in law are the LL.M. degree and higher. The J.D. degree offered by Yale is not included in the list of graduate law degrees.

As well, for example, Harvard University law school’s site, University of Chicago’s law school’s website and University of Michigan law school’s site are consistent with Yale’s in this regard, i.e., that graduate degrees in law start at LL.M and don’t include the J.D. degree as a graduate degree in law. See: [2], [3] and [4].

By the way, the website of University of California at Berkeley is mentioned in support of a J.D. being a “graduate degree”. However, I took the next logical step and looked on the site of UC Berkeley’s law school itself. Unfortunately, UC Berkeley’s law school doesn’t seem to offer any LL.M. or higher law degrees, so I couldn’t compare against Yale, etc. in terms of how what the law school considers a “graduate degree” in law.

In light of the Berkeley site versus the Yale, Harvard, Chicago and Michigan law school sites, I submit it can be safely said that U.S. universities themselves are not in consensus as to whether a J.D. degree is or isn't a "graduate degree in law".

I'll be revising the article accordingly. --Aquarius rising 01:38, 4 October 2005 (UTC)


The reason the J.D. is absent from these lists is that in order to undertake a "graduate law degree" one must be a "graduate" of law school.

To be eligible to apply for the LL.M., S.J.D., J.S.D. etc., one must already have obtained a J.D. or foreign equivalent. That is why these degrees are called graduate law degrees; one must have already graduated from law school to apply. The J.D. is indeed a graduate degree in law, it is not however a graduate law degree (implying one already has a J.D.).

US News & World Reports list law schools as graduate schools.

Kaplan lists law school as a graduate program: look under graduate programs.

I understand that in England that the training for lawyers in general is different for the training of lawyers that practice in the court room. The training for the lawyers that actually represent people in court is conducted at a considerably higher standard. Can someone please go into some detail here?

To avoid the type of confusion you have with a graduate program after a graduate degree some schools simply use the term Post-Graduate. The reason that many schools simply call these post-J.D. degrees "graduate degrees" is to reflect the fact that these programs are available to foreign applicants without graduate degrees.

Here, here, here, & here you see lists of undergraduate and graduate programs, and like Berkeley they list the law school as a graduate program. All universities list law school as either a professional program or a graduate program. I can find no exceptions to this rule.

In the United States, professional degrees refer to graduate degrees that are specific to a particular vocation, or profession. Law school, medical school and architecture school are all examples of institutions where professional degrees can be earned. It is simply a fact that law schools in the United States are considered graduate programs, or if you like, graduate level professional programs. Some law schools and universities in the United States refer to the J.D. by the Latin, Juris Doctor; however, many use the English translation, Doctorate of Jurisprudence. The only level of degrees conferred by U.S. law schools are master and doctorate level degrees.


I suggest we resolve our differences by simply omitting the POV distinction of graduate school vs. professional school from this article.

I'll be revising the article accordingly, I hope this meets your satisfaction.

There are no longer any references to graduate school in this article.

It would be useful for the article to retain the NPOV distinction of graduate school vs. professional school. Otherwise, someone else (without knowledge of this discussion) will come along and assert that a J.D. degree is a graduate degree.

--Aquarius rising 02:47, 5 October 2005 (UTC)


Is the following language neutral/informative enough to suit you?

A law school is usually an autonomous entity within a larger university and is generally considered to be a professional school program. Some universities categorize their law schools as graduate programs but most opt to refer to them as professional programs.

Proposed Merger:[edit]

Bear in mind that the Juris Doctor degree is not exclusive to the United States. Graduates of Canada's University of Toronto law school receive a J.D. as well. However, it is the only law school in Canada to do so, to my knowledge. (posted by user Nmarritz)

It is correct that the University of Toronto is currently the only Canadian school that offers a Juris Doctor degree but other Canadian schools are considering it. Western University, for example, recently had a reforendum and the students voted in favour of offering a J.D. Some prominent Australian universities also offer students the option of recieving a J.D. (examples include Bond, Beirne and Melbourne). (posted by user Turtleneck)

Isn't "Education of Lawyers in the United States" pretty much synonymous with American law school? Also, the bar exam is not part of legal education; it is about accreditation following law school. It seems to me this article should be merged into law school & bar examination. I can't see any reason for it to exist on its own, unless it was changed into a simple explanation of the process of becoming a lawyer with links to the various stages. (posted by user Laerien)

I think this article should remain separate from law school, but I agree that you have a point that some of this information could be transferred over there, and law school and bar examination could become "subarticles" of this article (because at least as currently composed, they are strongly American-focused). Maybe the article title should be changed to Education and training of lawyers in the United States. That would be more in compliance with the Manual of Style guideline that only the first word and proper nouns should be in uppercase, not all nouns. --Coolcaesar 11:59, 12 October 2005 (UTC)
I disagree with merger but agree with Coolcaesar I DavidKinnen did make a mistake in the name and it should be changed to a more appropriate title. I created this article to tidy up the huge Lawyer article, which is expanding yet again. Certainly hive off parts to law school and bar examination and make this the main page on Education and training of lawyers in the United States. Davidkinnen 10:16, 5 November 2005 (UTC)


I disagree with merging Juris Doctor into Education of Lawyers. The Juris Doctor article is already quite lengthy. Merging it into something else will only make things worse.

The Juris Doctor article mainly deals with matters that are tangential to "Education of Lawyers", e.g., other degrees that might be confused with the J.D., the history of the J.D. degree specifically, how society and academia view a J.D. compared to a Ph.D., proper use of titles such as Doctor, Barrister, etc., for someone with a J.D. degree. I have already added Paraprofessional Degrees and Executive Juris Doctor degrees to the JD article, as well as a lot of other info.

The "Education of Lawyers" article needs to be broken up. It contains a lot of good material but is too long and a lot of the material really stands on its own. For instance, "Lawyer Credentials, prestige and career paths" should be separate but what would the title be as an article?
RickReinckens 07:49, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

I disagree with the merger. The Juris Doctor degree is not synonymous with Legal education in the United States. Other degrees are awarded by American law schools (e.g. the LL.M.). I do think a title change is a good idea, however, it might be better to remove parts of the article that are redundant with "J.D." and "Law School" before the name change.

I am by no means an expert as to any of this (simply another kid working on a J.D.), but it seems to me that the problem you are all falling on is the simple fact that each country/jurisdiction (as far as procedural issues go)/AREA, use both different nomenclature for similar levels of study as well as different relative measures, in terms of years of study, for a given degree. In order to acheive any amount of clarity it seems that the best course of action would be to separate the descriptions of legal study by country, or in the alternative, if there are multiple definitions within a single country, by area or jurisdiction. We are obviously trying give multiple entities the same name here. This won't work, we are running into a wall in dealing with the different variations of the same word/title. That is all.

This could be a much better resource[edit]

Much of the information here does overlap with the "Law Schools in the United States" page, but nevertheless provides a good overview of legal education generally. I think this could be cleaned up a lot. Fortunately, some of the tone has recently been changed -- much of it sounded cynical and smacked of bitterness, but that seems to have changed a bit. A lot of the information could be better organized, and a number of links could be added.

Some additions and expansions might include: - The differences between clinical education and doctrinal education - Clerkships as a source of education - Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements - Law school education and law review - Interdisciplinary changes in legal education

There's probably too much info about salaries and firms for an entry about legal education -- so maybe some of the info here could be grouped with "Law Schools" and the rest made into "Legal Jobs" (law firms, salaries, public interest, etc.)?

I agree, there's very little about the actual legal education process, the information deals mostly with what law school students between semesters and after they finish school. Much work is needed. Bjsiders 12:22, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Discuss: Moving "Admission" section to "Bar_admission"[edit]

The Admission information on this page duplicates that on the Bar_admission page and its progeny. I suggest we eliminate it from this page and simply link to that page rewinn 22:46, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Discuss Focus of Article[edit]

  1. Legal education would seem to include CLE, LPOs, paralegals, citizen law education (e.g. Law Week) et cetera.
  2. If article is only about pre-practice education of lawyers, it would need retitling ...but probably not be very interesting.
  3. Much of the content seems related to how the legal profession relates to credential, what it's like working in mega-firms, et cetera. These are all interesting but .... the article seems scattered. What is its focus?
  4. Admission to the bar in the United States already deals in detail with admission, so I deleted most of it here. Let me know if you think otherwise rewinn 05:25, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

Upper Echelon[edit]

I agree with Peyna that there is "no need to turn this into a list of the top 50 univeristies in the country." However this section currently only lists the top 6 law schools. Although experts like Brian Leiter consider these schools to be clearly superior to the rest of the top 14 or 20, the article should mention the concept of T14 or T20. Although it's possible to get a big firm job from lower-ranked schools, many people/firms recognize the top 14 as placing well nationally at prestigious firms. See the corresponding section in Law School Rankings. Redkern 17:32, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Since it is covered in Law School Rankings perhaps we shouldn't bother listing any schools here and just direct the reader there, since otherwise it would be difficult to make any kind of NPOV decision about which schools to include without including them all. Peyna 20:23, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree that it's not necessary to list schools, and think they could be taken out and replaced with a link to the Rankings page. However, I think that either the upper echelon section or the rankings page needs to list the top 14 schools to show which schools are being talked about when discussing the top 14. Whether or not the concept of the top 14 has validity as a measure of success or quality, the Rankings page has enough citations to show that it is a common way of defining the top law schools. Since the top 14 is used as a definition of both the upper echelon and the highest ranked law schools, I think discussion of the top 14 should be retained on both the rankings page and upper echelon section regardless of whether the top 14 schools are named in both articles. Redkern 17:15, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

The article states: "Most legal professionals (judges, practitioners, or professors) rank the University of Chicago, Columbia, Harvard, NYU, Stanford, and Yale in the top echelon of American law schools." This is incorrect. I have examined USNWR reputation scores from judges/lawyers and academics for the past 8 years. In the past 8 years, NYU has never ranked higher than Michigan in reputation scores by lawyer/judges or academcis. The list should be Chicago, Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and Michigan.—Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.61.158.236 (talkcontribs)

Unfortunately, I can only see the top two listings completely on their website. Do you have anyway that we can verify your claim? Peyna 13:22, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
I went to the library and dug up the back issues for the past 8 years. I'm not sure there is any place online that would have that information since it is copyrighted with US News.
You are looking at the "peer ranking" scores, and not just the overall ranking, correct? Peyna 21:49, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, correct. For example, in 2005 Michigan's lawyer/judge score was 4.6, and NYU's 4.4. Peer (academic) scores were the same for the two schools, 4.5. In USNWR overall score, NYU was ranked higher (5th v. 8th I think).
Okay, well sounds good to me. Just put in a citation for the magazine (paper version, of course). It might be helpful to include other rankings as well, no need to rely on USN&WR. [5]. Peyna 01:35, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

The large firm environment[edit]

I would like to explain my changes to this section. First, the title "Length of typical workweek at megafirms" is only appropriate to the first sentence and does not accurately include the content of the remainder of this section. Second, although some associates work 80 or more hours a week, this is not the average at large firms. That this is not just personal experience is independently verified by the two citations. The first shows that the average associate hours per week (not just hours billed) range from 49 at Chapman and Cutler to 71 at Wachtell. The second examines how one bills 1800-2200 hours per year. Third, I removed the quotation marks from "megafirms" because the use of quotation marks was inconsistent and distracting. Redkern 14:52, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Merger with Law school in the United States, redux[edit]

I propose taking the section on school rankings and credentials (law review, etc.) and merging them into Law school in the United States. They're duplicative here and as a comment on Talk:Law school in the United States noted, they have more to do with the school rather than education. I suppose a section on judicial clerkships can stay, since they've already graduated law school. Wl219 07:35, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

Bias in some sections[edit]

Some sections of this article are clearly biased, such as the Lawyer credentials, prestige, and career path section. It sounds like a disgruntled law student wrote it. Other sections have some POV. If someone could find references for more information in this article and reduce the bias, that'd be great. ~MDD4696 16:19, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Cleanup, accuracy, and neutrality[edit]

this article has got some serious problems. 1. very little referencing 2. a lot of opinion, what appears to be original research, and 3. There are some sections that contain info that is flat out wrong. I'll be making some changes in the near future, and there will be discussion beforehand in this section. ....unsigned comment by Italics99 on 19 July 2007

First: trim Career Path Section[edit]

The Career Path section is mostly irrelevant to the subject of this article, so I've cut it (but included it below, in case anyone wants to start an article on lawyer career path or something). Also, the introduction redefines the article in a silly way; if the article is to be about preadmission lawyer's education very well, but then the title should be different. CLE and Public legal education are not insignificant rewinn (talk) 05:27, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

Following material excised for use in an article where it'd be relevant:

== Career Path == === Entry-Level Salary === The salary of a lawyer varies depending on the legal market, whether the lawyer has had a clerkship or worked in government, and whether the lawyer works at a large firm. As of 2008, the typical pre-bonus salary of an entry-level associate in a large, prestigious firm in a big city is well over $130,000, with the specific salary dependent on the firm and location. However, most new attorneys do not make $100,000 per year until much later in their career. Many firms make their hiring salaries known through the NALP Directory.<ref>[http://www.nalpdirectory.com/ NALP: DLE - Directory of Legal Employers<!-- Bot generated title -->]</ref> Associate salaries at the largest 500 U.S. law firms for summer associates through ninth year associates can be found at http://www.alreadybored.com. Large firms raised the pre-bonus starting salaries early in 2007, and the current median starting salary at large firms in New York, California, Chicago, D.C., Texas and Massachusetts is $160,000. The current median starting salary of large firms in smaller markets such as Atlanta, Philadelphia, Denver, Seattle, Florida, Charlotte, etc. is $130,000 to $145,000. Bonuses for 2007 in NYC topped $45,000 for first year associates and $115,000 for seventh year associates and beyond. Bonuses in other large markets are between $10,000 to $35,000 for first year associates and $20,000 to $60,000 for seventh year associates.<ref>See http://www.alreadybored.com</ref> With a federal court clerkship, entry level attorneys can expect two things: first, to receive a signing bonus of about $50,000 (or $70,000 for two years) at a prestigious law firm; and second, to enter a prestigious law firm as a second-year associate (or third, if the attorney has clerked for two years).<ref>See http://www.alreadybored.com</ref> Attorneys who clerk at the Supreme Court can expect bonuses of close to $200,000 if they enter an elite firm, on top of their salary. Aside from the elite firms, however, salaries vary and the vast majority of law school graduates will make considerably less than $100,000 in their first years of practice. Some estimates suggest the average salary for a newly-minted attorney in a smaller legal market, in private practice, not working at an elite firm, might make around $39,500. Public interest attorneys and public defenders make approximately the same. On the other hand, newly-minted [[patent attorney]]s will often make six-figure salaries, regardless of any other credentials or the size of the firm they join. The market for patent attorneys is unique for several reasons: * In order to be registered as a patent attorney, one must pass the [[USPTO registration examination|registration examination]] administered by the [[United States Patent and Trademark Office]] (USPTO). To be eligible to sit for this examination, one must have a background in the [[natural sciences]] or [[engineering]]—a background not commonly found among U.S. law students. * The relatively small number of law students who can qualify to sit for the USPTO exam severely limits the number of new patent attorneys, a constraint not found in the legal market as a whole. * In [[1963]], the [[Supreme Court of the United States|U.S. Supreme Court]] in ''Sperry v. Florida''<ref>373 [[United States Reports|U.S.]] 379 (1963).</ref> prohibited states from restricting the practice of patent law. For example, Florida requires that all attorneys who wish to practice in the state pass its bar examination. However, a registered patent attorney may set up or join a practice in Florida without taking the Florida bar, as long as the attorney's practice is limited to patent law. This means that unlike the general legal market, which is effectively divided into numerous sub-markets by state-level regulation of the bar, the market for patent attorneys is truly national. Starting one's own law firm right out of law school is possible, but risky and requires start-up money. The new lawyer is not only learning a new trade but also starting a business. === The large firm environment=== To earn their high salaries, new lawyers at megafirms are expected to work hard. There is, however, a common misperception that associates average 80 or more hours per week. In fact, the average workweek at most megafirms is between 50 and 70 hours.<ref>[http://avery.ws/ai/shortest_hour_law_firms.html Avery Index: Law Firms: The Shortest Hours<!-- Bot generated title -->]</ref><ref>http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/CDO_Public/cdo-billable_hour.pdf</ref> Most new associates stay at these megafirms only a few years. There are simply too many associates for all of them to become partners, and many leave when they realize that they will not or do not want to make partner. Morale at a number of these megafirms is often reported to be very low, but this varies among individuals and firms. Some practices maintain high levels of satisfaction despite the long hours and limited prospects. Further, many young attorneys do not see their first few years at a law firm as the beginning of a lifetime career, but as a way to start out, and reassess before the partnership decision is made. The high salaries offered by large firms are often compelling to a freshman attorney who has just graduated with a mountain of college debt that can be in excess of $100,000. After their megafirm tenure, attorneys may start a new private practice, move to a smaller legal market, teach, go into government, or leave the law. A legal education offers many options. In an October 2007 press conference reported in the [[Wall Street Journal]] and the [[New York Times]], the law student group [[Building a Better Legal Profession]] released its first annual ranking of top [[law firms]] by average billable hours, pro bono participation, and demographic diversity. <ref>Amir Efrati, You Say You Want a Big-Law Revolution, Take II, ''Wall Street Journal'', October 10, 2007. </ref> <ref> Adam Liptak, In Students’ Eyes, Look-Alike Lawyers Don’t Make the Grade, ''New York Times'', October 29, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/29/us/29bar.html?em&ex=1193889600&en=4b0cd84261ffe5b4&ei=5087%0A </ref> The report found that most large firms fall short of their pro bono targets and have low percentages of African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, and gay & lesbian partners. <ref>Thomas Adcock & Zusha Elinson, Student Group Grades Firms on Diversity, Pro Bono Work, ''New York Law Journal'', October 19, 2007, http://www.law.com/jsp/nylj/PubArticleNY.jsp?hubtype=BackPage&id=1192698212305 </ref> The group has sent the information to top law schools around the country, encouraging students to take this data into account when choosing where to work after graduation. <ref> Henry Weinstein, Big L.A. law firms score low on diversity survey: The numbers of female, black, Latino, Asian and gay partners and associates lag significantly behind their representation in the city's population, according to a study, ''Los Angeles Times'', October 11, 2007, http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-diversity11oct11,1,661263.story?coll=la-headlines-california </ref> As more students choose where to work based on the firms' rankings, firms face an increasing market pressure to increase their commitment to pro bono work, reform their billable hour expectations, and increase their demographic diversity in order to attract top recruits. <ref> Linda Hershman, Perfect Information for Law Students, ''The New Republic'', October 23, 2007, http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/open_university/archive/2007/10/23/perfect-information-for-law-students.aspx </ref> === Career paths available with solid credentials === With [[Order of the Coif]] and honors, law review, moot court, or a federal appellate clerkship on a resumé, an ambitious attorney has many options. He or she may strive to make partner at a large [[law firm]], or become a law professor at a law school and try to get tenure. Alternatively, the lawyer may go to work for the Justice Department and try to obtain an appointment as a United States Attorney. Once a lawyer has reached any (or all) of those objectives, he or she may turn to developing connections with a political party and may hope for a presidential nomination to a federal judgeship or a senior position in an administration. Examples abound of attorneys who have followed such a career path. Some judges, for example, include Richard Posner, John G. Roberts, Michael Luttig, Samuel Alito, Edward Becker, and Alex Kozinski. Less well publicized is the rate of attrition along this path. Each year, the number of new lawyers with top credentials entering the work force far exceeds the number of openings at the top created by retirements plus the expansion of the profession. Typically, major law firms hire more new associates each year than they have active partners; as this process repeats each year, the mathematics of advancement bear examination. Even less well publicized is the fact that the vast majority of law school students do not make law review, Order of the Coif, et cetera., nor do they even interview at elite law firms or for clerkships. === Career earnings === Per the U.S Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, median earnings in 2002 for US attorneys was $90,290, with the middle 50% earning between $61,060 and $136,810. Less than 10% of lawyers in 2002 made above $150,000. This is comparable with many other professional and managerial positions. Earnings in the public sector are typically lower than in the private sector. === Career trends === In [[September, 2007]], the [[Wall Street Journal]] reported that a glut of new [[law school]] graduates has depressed earnings for new lawyers and squeezed incomes for existing attorneys. Economists and legal professors have faulted over-optimistic marketing campaigns and inflated salary estimates for unduly raising expectations among legal students.<ref name="hard case">[http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119040786780835602.html Hard Case: Job Market Wanes for U.S. Lawyers], Amir Efrati, [[Wall Street Journal]], [[September 24]], [[2007]]</ref> end excision rewinn (talk) 05:27, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

New history section[edit]

I've cut and pasted some notes I took on the history of legal education in the U.S. Many of the sources are not the ideal, but they are available on the internet, which makes it easier for the interested reader to learn more, and for editors to verify (particularly helpful for editing wars with chumps). Your comments are welcome. Zoticogrillo (talk) 00:27, 13 April 2008 (UTC)