It's here, the day scambloggers have been waiting for: The ABA is overhauling its accreditation standards.
Oh...wait, what? Oh, just the LLM accreditation? Well, I guess that's still exciting... ?
Oh...wait, what? This doesn't affect accreditation?
Nope. LLM programs are not covered under ABA accreditation. They must not substantially interfere with the quality of the JD program. The new ABA rules are not regulations on the schools themselves, but a model rule it hopes states will adopt for foreign lawyers with an LLM attempting to sit for a state bar.
Under the new rules, students would be required to take a minimum of 26 hours to complete an LLM, and must take classes in constitutional law, civil procedure, history of the United States legal system (something not required for a JD), and legal writing and research.
The curriculum makes sense, if the typical LLM student is fresh out of a foreign law school and wants to practice law in the US. If you want to ensure minimum competency before letting them sit for the bar exam, these are the big things to cover to catch them up on the differences between their nation's laws and the United States. But, the rules are terrible if you look at the number of foreign LLM candidates who have been working for year, and either want to return to their home country or are very familiar with American law already. It makes even less sense when you look at the number of LLM candidates who are Americans going back for more (like almost every tax LLM).
In the end though, rather than changing the LLM program to ensure minimum competency before letting foreign lawyers practice law in the US, couldn't there just be a test? If you need to learn the basics, take those classes. If you know the basics and want an advanced education, take more focused, advanced classes. Either way, you still have to take the same test at the end.
Now, can anyone think of a good test of minimum competency for lawyers?
[National Law Journal via Law.com]