kitchen table math, the sequel: lawyers without law school

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

lawyers without law school

A friend just got in touch with me about Walter Russell Mead's idea for a national baccalaureate:
a federally recognized national baccalaureate (or 'national bac') degree that students could earn by demonstrating competence and knowledge
Her email:
You may know this already, but this system was used for lawyers, and the first woman partner at Cravath never went to law school. So there is precedent.


Bostonian said...

It should not take four years of undergraduate work and three years of law school before one can sit for the bar exam. If I thought the U.S. needed more lawyers, I would be more upset about this. Let anyone take the bar exam, and if potential clients want the imprimatur of a law degree and a B.A., let them pay a higher hourly rate for such credentials.

Likewise, the standard path to an M.D. should take 8 years (4 undergrad, 4 in med school). The pre-med courses can be finished in 2 years, and for well-prepared students with A.P. credits in science and math, they can be finished in one year.

My understanding is that in India, students take pre-med classes in the equivalent of our 11th and 12th grades (which they call "college") and take a competitive exam to enter medical school. One completes medical school at 23, not 26 as occurs here.

I think the path to working as a doctor or lawyer is shorter in many other countries.

It should not be surprising that universities pad their enrollments by requiring the B.A. before one can enter their professional schools.

Bostonian said...

As I wrote above, I don't think a 4-year should be the standard prerequisite for medical school, but I do think they should study math and science (and freshman composition -- doctors must be able to communicate) and take the MCAT. The New York Times today
( Getting Into Med School Without Hard Sciences) highlights a medical school that is doing the opposite -- requiring a B.A. but allowing them to

"forgo organic chemistry, physics and calculus — though they get abbreviated organic chemistry and physics courses during a summer boot camp run by Mount Sinai. They are exempt from the MCAT. Instead, they are admitted into the program based on their high school SAT scores, two personal essays, their high school and early college grades and interviews."

I suspect that that they are trying to solve the "problem" of "too many" Asian medical students (who had no problem with physics, calclus, and organic chemistry) and "too few" black and Hispanic medical students.

Crimson Wife said...

I read that NYT article and it struck me as an affirmative action program for offspring of big-time Mt. Sinai donors. I highly doubt that Katie Friedman quoted would've gotten accepted had her wealthy father not been on the Mt. Sinai board.

ChemProf said...

Bostonian is right. We actually run a "post-baccalaureate pre-med program", where students with non-science backgrounds take the two years of pre-med coursework (and for the record, the regular pre-med requirements include a year of english along with General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, General Physics, General Biology, and at some schools calculus or statistics). These students do very well, so you really don't need a science major to be pre-med, and there is no reason a med school couldn't opt to accept students who don't have a BA or BS. However, since they have their pick of students, there is also no incentive for them to drop that requirement (unless there are other affirmative action or legacy issues going on...)

Catherine Johnson said...

Actually, there's a strong argument to be made for educating professionals in the liberal arts. See, e.g.: Peter Berkowitz.

I think this process can be speeded up, however. An excellent K-12 liberal education is sufficient, imo.

The problem is that most public schools aren't providing an excellent liberal education. Because we have the best universities in the world, future doctors and lawyers receive their liberal education in college, not high school.