You might think: "What a great idea -- an undergrad law degree!" After all, isn't this what the rest of the world is doing?
True, except their degrees actually have value, career-wise. An Irishman with an undergraduate law degree can go on to practice -- but these folks can't (unless they're in a 'reading the law' state).
The University of Arizona just launched the nation's first B.A. in Law*, a degree that teaches legal concepts and analytical skills to undergraduates. But it's a degree in law that won't allow you to become a lawyer (unless, of course, you go on to law school).
Which is why you probably don't care.
Every Other Country Is Doing It!
A press release notes that most other countries offer undergraduate law degrees. True. And in most of those countries, you can actually practice law afterwards.
The university also claims that the degree is "a good way to prepare individuals for a number of professions in which a strong knowledge of law is advantageous, such as corporate compliance, city planning, water resources management, business management, health care administration, human resources, policy analysis, and legal technology consulting."
Learning law so that you can work in an alternative career -- ask the flocks of unemployed J.D.s how that's working out.
The beauty of our deeply flawed (mostly due to cost) system is that students study a plethora of things in undergrad, then head to law school as "finishing school." Each of us shows up with our own background and skill set, which makes us good at more than just memorizing statutes and flexing facts. Psych majors might be good with people, English majors will hopefully be proficient writers, etc.
So kids, ask yourself this: What will doubling up on law do for you? Give you slightly better grades in law school?
There is one good idea: a 3+3 program, which as you may have guessed, means six years for that double-dose of law. Of course, a student working on most liberal arts degrees could probably finish in three years if she took a couple summer classes or had AP credits, and then, of course, you'd have a broader skill set, but whatever -- one less year in school, right?
*Not the First?
Professor Paul Caron, also of the Law Professor Blogs Network, passes on this snippy response from UC Berkeley:
The program announcement of the UofA Law School about there forming the first U.S.-based academic undergraduate program in "law" is totally misleading. The undergraduate BA major in "legal studies" at UC Berkeley is over 40 years old and based in Berkeley Law. Among others, both Northwestern and the University of Wisconsin have long-established undergraduate academic majors in law/legal studies. The only thing about the program announcement that is true on its face is that they are calling the major "law" rather than "legal studies."
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