Tuesday, November 20, 2007
My friend Leslie Green--a longtime faculty member at Osgoode Hall School of Law of York University, Toronto, who is now Professor of the Philosophy of Law at Oxford University--writes:
Ms McNish shows a surprising lack of interest in the real reasons why a couple of Canadian law deans were eager to adopt the US label for their undergraduate law degrees. She uncritically reports that, 'Unlike in Canada, British law graduates are not required to earn an undergraduate degree as a prerequisite... As a result, global law firms typically pay law grads with JDs substantially more than Canadians packing LLBs."
There is no evidence whatever for this claim. A lower salary is not "typically" offered to LLB graduates from Canada's best law schools.
Nor are global law firms in London paying Oxford and Cambridge graduates less than those from Harvard or Yale--and here the first degree in law is called a BA. The claim is simply false.
Moreover, everyone in the Canadian legal academy knows the real origins of this change, which include (in no order): (a) an attempt at brand-differentiation by a couple of law schools keen to ration access by price; (b) a cheap sop to law students who are being charged much higher fees for the same, and sometimes, worse legal educations than students got in those very schools not so long ago; and (c) continentalist sucking-up.
I taught for many years in elite law schools in both Canada and the US.
Here, at Oxford, where law is an unabashed first degree, our students are no weaker than those who start it as a second undergraduate degree in the US or Canada. There is no evidence that they make worse, or worse-paid lawyers than their equivalent cohorts in the same or comparable firms. Do people really think that market-savvy global law firms do not know that, other things being equal, BA=LLB=JD? (Which is not to deny, of course, that they are also savvy about the quality of the education the students received under the various labels.)
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