Do Med schools do it better? - Duquesne University School of Law

Do Med schools do
it better?
An Argument for a Pre-Law
Rebecca C Flanagan
UMass Law School
• 5 years as director of the Pre-Law
Program at Uconn.
• Worked closely with the director of PreMed Programs, Dr. Keat Sanford.
Comparing law school
and medical school
• Think for a minute about the
criticisms of legal education.
• Now think about medical education.
Can you think of criticisms of
medical education?
• What is the difference?
Pre-law and pre-med:
A comparison
• Pre-med and holistic review
• Academic requirements
• Varies by school, but most require:
Biology and Biochemistry
General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry
Social Sciences (Psychology, Sociology, or Anthropology)
• Medical School Admissions Test (MCATs)
• Closed related to pre-med academic requirements
• Clinical experience (Letters of Reference, Application)
• History of service (Volunteer or extracurricular experience)
• “Distance travelled” and Adversities Overcome (Interview)
Pre-law and pre-med:
A comparison
• Pre-law prerequisites:
• Academic Requirements: None
• Helpful (but not required) experiences:
• Some idea of what lawyers do (beyond “Law and Order”)
• Some volunteer experiences (do not need to be rigorous
or consistent)
Why we should adopt
a pre-med model
• Why now?
• Declining enrollment and lack of entry level jobs…why now IS the time.
• The problem of “practice-ready” graduates and foundational legal
• It’s not a lack of jobs…it’s the inability of newly-minted lawyers to
meet the justice gap.
• Practice-ready=more practice in law school
• Before practice experience, students need to master foundational
legal skills
Mastering skills before
professional school
• Medical schools faced the same challenge law schools
are now facing: how to better prepare grads in less
• Med students must move to clinical experience by their
third year (in some schools, even earlier)
• Med schools, like law schools, face increasing knowledge,
skills, and proficiencies, and less teaching time.
• Requiring competencies before matriculation allows
law schools to focus on practice-readiness.
• Practice-ready grads will help stem the decline in law
school enrollment.
The Challenge:
Skills and competencies
• ABA pre-law website:
• “does not recommend any any undergraduate majors or
groups of courses” BUT
• “applicants should develop…skills such as problemsolving, critical reading, writing, editing, oral
communication and listening, research
organization…background knowledge and exposure to
• LSAC pre-law advice:
• “no particular undergraduate education is
Linking skills to
• Some basic core skills will be easy to agree on:
Basic writing skills, including grammar and style.
Introductory informal and formal logic*
Analytical reasoning
Macro-and-micro economics/financial literacy
• These skills could be matched with specific college
courses that teach these skills
Schools can augment the core skills with preferred skills,
based on their needs and curriculum.
The challenge:
• Law schools need to move from competitors to
• Medical schools have done this through the
Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMS).
• AAMC, in collaboration with the AMA, acts as a
liaison between pre-med advisors, undergraduate
institutions, and medical colleges.
The challenge:
• This is more of a perceived challenge than an impediment.
• Most undergraduate universities evaluate the skills
associated with their courses to establish distributional and
core requirements (sometimes called general education
• LSAC already works with undergraduate institutions to
evaluate transcripts and provide uniform GPAs to law
• LSAC and the ABA could operate as liaisons between prelaw advisors, undergraduate institutions, and law schools.
Measuring skills:
supplementing the lsat
• Unlike the LSAT, the MCAT directly tests the skills
and competencies taught in academic pre-requisites.
• This process keeps standards high in pre-med courses.
• Courses must provide students with knowledge to
succeed on MCAT.
• Prof.’s Shultz and Zedack from UC-Berkeley have
created a test to supplement the LSAT, designed to test
basic competencies not measured by the LSAT.
• Many of these skills are the same that are foundational
skills for legal education.
Putting it together
• Laws schools need to:
• Collaborate on skills requirements
• Work with the ABA and LSAC to classify
undergraduate courses
• Require undergraduate courses that teach the required
knowledge, skills, and competencies.
• Explore LSAT alternatives and supplements that
provide a better measure of law student preparedness.
Additional considerations:
personal readiness and
• Holistic review requires medical school admissions to look
at more than academic readiness for medical education.
• Applicants are required to participate in volunteer and
clinical experiences.
• Personal readiness and potential is measured by:
American Medical College Application (AMCAS)
Letters of Reference
Medical Admissions Interviews
• Medical schools conduct interviews of their top
• Interview process provides a snapshot of student
• More difficult to manipulate readiness in an interview
by a team of admissions professionals than in an essay.
What about secondcareer law students?
• The rigorous undergraduate pre-med requirements
require students to know they are pre-med by their
sophomore year of college.
• For career changer: post baccalaureate pre-medical
• As of Dec. 2014, 125 medical schools offered postbaccalaurate programs for career-changers.
• Pre-law school programs could offer career changers
the opportunity to prepare for law school.
Where do we go
from here?
• Law schools are risking a race to the bottom as
applications decline.
• The race to the bottom threatens the legal profession.
• Rethinking legal education may require uncomfortable
changes in law school admissions.
• Short-term discomfort could pay long-term dividends
are law school graduate better-prepared, practice ready

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