Virginia: Legal Education – a Lawyer’s Inn

Virginia: Legal Education – a Lawyer’s Inn

The Bencher is the bimonthly publication of the American Inns of Court (www.innsofcourt.org), formed in 1985 and modeled after the English Inns of Court (Lincoln’s Inn, Middle Temple, Gray’s Inn, and Inner Temple) dating to the 1300s. Its issue for the May/June 2014 covers “The State of Legal Education in America”.

As a matter of austerity and practicality, President Barack Obama remarked controversially in August, 2013, that “law schools would probably be wise to think about being two years instead of three years”. Historically United States law school education was two years (earning an LL.B. degree), until three years (and a J.D. degree) was standardized in the 1960s; and now “top ten” Northwestern Law School and a growing number of other law schools offer two year programs again.

The “reformed” Juris Doctorate program at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, offers a hybrid alternative: its third year is largely “experiential,” featuring immersion programs, practicum teachings, clinics, externships, etc., more akin medical education rotations. The Bencher published two articles by Washington and Lee faculty: “Becoming a Legal Professional: The 3L curriculum at Washington & Lee University,” by Nora V. Demleitner, Dean and Professor, id. at 10-12; and “And now a Crisis In Legal Education,” by James E. Moliterno, Professor. Id. at 13-15.

Mr. Waterman is a Master of The I’Anson-Hoffman American Inn of Court. The Honorable Donald W. Lemons, a Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, is President of the American Inns of Court.