There are too many lawyers, argues professor
IRELAND is probably training too many lawyers, according to a university president.
The number of legal eagles coming out of law school could be a factor in an increasingly litigious society, he believes.
Dublin City University (DCU) president Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski also calls into question the role of professional bodies such as the Kings Inns and the Law Society in educating lawyers.
Prof von Prondzynski will expand on his controversial views at a symposium on the future of legal education in Ireland, in Trinity College Dublin (TCD) on Friday.
The symposium comes as third-level colleges debate their future structures and course offerings in the light of reports on professional legal training by the Competition Authority and by the Legal Services Review Group in Northern Ireland.
In a report last year, the Competition Authority effectively recommended an end to the monopoly on legal education exercised by the Law Society and the King's Inns, the only professional bodies to hold such control.
Prof von Prondzynski will argue that Ireland needs fewer law graduates, less litigation, and that law schools may need to look again at the 'values' they teach, including the desirability of legal intervention.
In an extract from his address, he says there may be a need to move away from undergraduate legal education and for law to be studied at postgraduate level only, to ensure a more rounded education.
"We need to look again at what we are intending to achieve in legal education. Most law students go on to practise law, and achieve their qualification through additional courses in the professional bodies.
"This means that they spend several years studying law, and in doing so have very little understanding of the circumstances of the clients they represent." The professor says it would make more sense to follow the US model of encouraging would-be lawyers to study something else first then have a postgrad degree programme which qualified them for practice in either profession.