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Stop Me if You've Heard this Before: A Plan to Fix Law Schools!

By William Peacock, Esq. on October 16, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Everybody has an idea of how to fix law schools. Tuition is too high. Student loan debt is crippling recent graduates. There are no jobs for recent graduates. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.

Today's visionary is Mark Chandler, the senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary and chief compliance officer of Cisco. On the ABA Legal Rebels blog, Chandler outlined a few ideas that he found particularly compelling, and which tech company Cisco has already implemented in a sort-of pilot program.

Work for Pay and Academic Credit

This isn't too different than the status quo at many law schools today, except the pay part. Externships are a common "reform" intended to produce the mythical "practice-ready graduate." Chandler's hope is that with paid internships, and no tuition while the student is extern-ing, the student's debt load and practice-ready problems will be solved.

Academic Support for Externs

Even though they won't be receiving tuition, Chandler hopes that schools will provide oversight of the externship and academic support for student-externs, such as supplementary reading, which would justify the academic credit aspect of his plan.

Employer Pays Tuition

That should satisfy that last concern, eh? Schools provide academic credit and supplementary readings for externs, and get paid by the employer. Win-win, right?

Cisco's Pilot Program

Chandler's company is taking two law students from Colorado Law for seven months, paying then $1,400 per week, and providing them with some practical experience. The students won't pay tuition during their seven weeks in Silicon Valley, and the law school will receive a donation to make up for the lost tuition.

This pilot program is awesome -- and wholly unrealistic. Cisco apparently has money to burn, and will get two whole in-house prospects out of this project. It's win-win for everyone involved.

But how many companies are going to have the funding to pay $1,400 per week ($73,000 annually), plus money to the school? If companies and firms had this kind of funding to pay law students, you'd think some of the 60,000 or so unemployed recent graduates would have something resembling long-term, full-time, J.D. required employment, instead of burning their thumbs on the espresso steamers at Starbucks.

Have a better idea? Join the law school reform discussion on Facebook at FindLaw for Legal Professionals.

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