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What Matt Shinners Would Do if He Were a Law School Dean

Big news from Blueprint LSAT Prep today: After nearly a decade of prepping kids for law school, we’re prepping for law school ourselves. Only we’re not attending one. No, dear LSAT blog readers, we’re forming one. And yours truly has been tapped as dean. Be it my pedigree, experience, or the way my profile will look on marketing materials, we’re planning to hit the ground running.

How will our law school be different? I’m glad you asked.

First, we’re going to get you some work experience. But not just in an area you pick. We’re implementing a rotation between different clinicals your first year. Much like law firms will have new/summer associates “try out” different practice groups before assigning them to one, we’re going to have you rotate between different areas of law in that first year of law school. You won’t be doing any lawyering, but you will be assisting in the work. While not perfect, this will give you an idea of what different practice areas entail. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find a love for maritime law you never knew you had.

Second, in order to allow for this rotation, we’re splitting up the first-year curriculum over the first two years. You’ll still have Legal Research and Writing, Contracts, and Civil Procedure your first year, but you’ll be able to split up Torts, Crim, Contracts, and Property through the second. We’re also going to add Constitutional Law and Corporations to the required curriculum. Yes, this means fewer electives. Luckily, you’ll be getting the experience with different areas of law (which is what electives are good for, anyway) in your clinicals.

Finally, you’ll have earned your JD after two years. That’s right – the third year was generally just a way to kill a year at large expense (i.e. tuition). If you want to stay a third year, we’ll offer Masters of Law programs in different practice areas. By now, you should have a good sense of the area in which you want to practice, so you can focus on that. But if you have a job offer from your 2L summer, enjoy the money. And think of how much you saved in tuition that third year when writing out your first donation check.

Obviously, we’re not opening a law school. And a lot of these ideas would probably fail miserably. But there are definitely issues with the current law school experience. There’s a lack of focus on practical lawyering, and there’s a lot of time spent on things that will never serve you in your profession. As a professional school, there should be more of a focus on getting you ready to be a lawyer. There will always be institutions that are up in an ivory tower and will focus on theory more than practice, but there should be more law schools willing to go the practical route than there currently are. And to top it off, the cost needs to come way down to make it in line with the expected income after graduation.

Both pre-law and post-law students, feel free to chime in with your comments! Call me dumb, or ask me to actually start this law school. Either way, we’d love to hear from you.