Comparing United States and New Zealand Legal Education: Are U.S. Law Schools Too Good?
30 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 31 (1997)
15 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2014 Last revised: 11 Nov 2014
Date Written: January 1, 1997
This Article offers a comparison of the legal education systems of the United States and New Zealand. While it was originally published in 1997 in the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, and has been largely overlooked in more recent years, it is germane to the current vigorous debate regarding what changes need to be made in American legal education. I highlight in this Article several significant differences between these two systems by contrasting their admissions policies, clinical programs, availability of "law-and-economics" electives, and staffing of required courses. Based on this analysis, I concluded that although American law schools were clearly "better" than the New Zealand law schools at that time this superiority may have been achieved at too high of a cost both in terms of the substantial resources devoted to legal education in the United States and the problematic effects of highly stratified American legal education upon the overall social structure. That conclusion appears to be even more strongly justified now in 2014 than it was in 1997, given both the sharp rise in both American public and private law school tuition in real terms and the rising level of social inequality in the United States over the past two decades. I have therefore decided to re-post this Article for a new readership.
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