A proposed change in the law school accreditation standards that would lift the ban on students receiving academic credit for paid externships has drawn a lot of comment—and much of the comment is in opposition to lifting the ban.
Under the current standards, law students are barred from receiving both credit and pay for an externship. But the governing council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has approved for notice and comment a proposal that would eliminate the ban.
Comments on the proposal are here; for a student-eye recounting of the possible advantages of the proposal, scroll (h/t Ilya Somin) to the fifth letter in the series, by Peter Donohue, editor in chief of the George Mason Civil Rights Law Journal.
It is somewhat surprising (in a good way) to find the ABA inviting such a shakeup of the way things are done in legal academia, and less surprising to find many faculty resisting.
Just as other licensed professionals typically have an incentive to resist competition from alternative providers — lawyers to resist the incursions of paralegals, physicians those of RNs and pharmacists, and so forth — so professional educators have an incentive to resist competition from on-the-job training. That helps explain why the organized providers of government-licensed education are so keen to draw and enforce boundaries in this area: nothing for which the student gets paid should count toward obligatory time spent in education. And yet some employers would bid significant sums for the work efforts of lawyers in training, and that compensation in turn could make a dent in the typically high cost of obtaining a law degree. “Any proposed changes will come back to the council for final consideration in March.”