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Big Idea: Be a Lawyer at 22
One of our country's most able and prolific bloggers, Walter Russell Mead, reports that the idea of being able to sit for the bar after just two years of law school is starting to catch on.
Law school has, over the years, been quite the opposite of an educational bargain. Universities have shamelessly bragged that they've redistributed the "profit" made by law schools to other parts of the university. And if you want to find genuinely overpaid and underworked professors, look to our law schools.
Law schools, of course, have been very short on financial aid of any kind, but they've been very easygoing in letting any and all students borrow the whole amount of the cost, including living expenses. So six-figure debt is common. Nobody has cared all that much as long as the market for new lawyers was strong. A six-figure debt was thought to be the ticket to a six-figure job.
But those days are over. The demand for lawyers is way off. Compensation has plummeted. Job security is getting close to nonexistent for new attorneys, and most of them, by the standards of even the recent past, are very unemployed. So many law-school grads ferociously regret the burden of their seemingly endless loan payments that are bigger than their rents.
The word is out. Only a fool or an invincible optimist or a person of formidable means would pay retail for law school these days. The bubble is bursting big-time. So law schools are giving a lot more financial aid, including discounts they call scholarships.
But why not just lop a year off the degree program? The third year of law school, as Mead reports, is regarded as useful but not necessary. The courses tend to be mostly electives, with considerable indulgence in the direction of "legal history" and "legal theory" and other specialized interests that seem like overpriced luxuries these days. Law firms report that most of the training on how actually to practice law occurs on the job anyway, and it might be in their interest to have an excuse to hire newbies at even lower rates than they're now offering.
What about passing the bar? It seems that law students don't learn all that much in law school useful for doing THAT. That's why they usually have to pay a considerable sum to take a separate course to be ready. And the bar is all about a kind of a mastery of the basics in a variety of areas, and the rate of passing might even go up if it were taken right after completing the basic courses.
There are, of course, justified concerns about diluting the quality of the law degree. But the "value" of the degree has been radically reduced by the market, and so some sacrifice in excellence seems inevitable to bring down the price to something near what the thing is really worth as a marketable credential.
Russell wonders whether the same principle of reducing the time required to get a degree as a means of cost control can be applied across the board:
The reason American higher education drags on for so long at such a high cost is partly because American secondary education is such a disaster: low expectations, weak curricula, and all around mediocrity are the ways of most American high schools. A more aggressive approach to secondary education, with more “early college” programs in which high school juniors would earn college credit and finish their BAs two years early would make the whole system much less cumbersome and expensive. That system, plus a two-year law program, would get students into the legal profession at the same age they now finish the BA. These same reforms could be carried out in dozens of other professional and vocational training programs.
I doubt that we have some program for general reform of American education here. But there's a lot of advice for parents of modest or just normal means and smart kids.
Get them taking college courses in high school. I don't mean lame AP courses, which are of very uneven quality. Get your kid released from some high school requirements to take courses at a local college. Or home-school your kid quickly through high school, get him or her over to a local community college at 16, and then on to a good four-year college at 18 with the four years there cut to two. If the local high school has a warehouse environment, "low expectations," and "weak curricula," you might just have your kid take the GED and on to college at 16 that way.
The first couple of years of most American colleges (those which are nonselective in admissions) are in many ways designed, as Russell says, to remedy the deficiencies of our high schools. That means your kid doesn't need four years of high school to be ready for many or most colleges. Take advantage of that fact.
And then after two years at a "real college" and two years of law school, you can be the proud parent of 22-year-old lawyer. No extended adolescence for him or her! Or if he is she is more nerdy, it's reasonable to expect a Ph.D at 24, especially if our graduate schools follow the example of at least some of our professional ones in pruning their useful-but-not-necessary requirements.
A man's skeleton, found facedown with his hands bound, was unearthed near an ancient ceremonial circle during a high speed rail excavation project.
- A skeleton representing a man who was tossed face down into a ditch nearly 2,500 years ago with his hands bound in front of his hips was dug up during an excavation outside of London.
- The discovery was made during a high speed rail project that has been a bonanza for archaeology, as the area is home to more than 60 ancient sites along the planned route.
- An ornate grave of a high status individual from the Roman period and an ancient ceremonial circle were also discovered during the excavations.
Foul play?<p>A skeleton representing a man who was tossed face down into a ditch nearly 2,500 years ago with his hands bound in front of his hips was dug up during a high speed rail excavation.</p><p>The positioning of the remains have led archaeologists to suspect that the man may have been a victim of an ancient murder or execution. Though any bindings have since decomposed, his hands were positioned together and pinned under his pelvis. There was also no sign of a grave or coffin. </p><p>"He seems to have had his hands tied, and he was face-down in the bottom of the ditch," <a href="https://www.livescience.com/iron-age-murder-victim-england.html" target="_blank">said archaeologist Rachel Wood</a>, who led the excavation. "There are not many ways that you end up that way."</p><p>Currently, archaeologists are examining the skeleton to uncover more information about the circumstances of the man's death. Fragments of pottery found in the ditch may offer some clues as to exactly when the man died. </p><p>"If he was struck across the head with a heavy object, you could find a mark of that on the back of the skull," Wood said to <a href="https://www.livescience.com/iron-age-murder-victim-england.html" target="_blank">Live Science</a>. "If he was stabbed, you could find blade marks on the ribs. So we're hoping to find something like that, to tell us how he died."</p>
Other discoveries at Wellwick Farm<p>The grim discovery was made at Wellwick Farm near Wendover. That is about 15 miles north-west of the outskirts of London, where <a href="https://www.hs2.org.uk/building-hs2/hs2-green-corridor/" target="_blank">a tunnel</a> is going to be built as part of a HS2 high-speed rail project due to open between London and several northern cities sometime after 2028. The infrastructure project has been something of a bonanza for archaeology as the area is home to more than 60 ancient sites along the planned route that are now being excavated before construction begins. </p><p>The farm sits less than a mile away from the ancient highway <a href="http://web.stanford.edu/group/texttechnologies/cgi-bin/stanfordnottingham/places/?icknield" target="_blank">Icknield Way</a> that runs along the tops of the Chiltern Hills. The route (now mostly trails) has been used since prehistoric times. Evidence at Wellwick Farm indicates that from the Neolithic to the Medieval eras, humans have occupied the region for more than 4,000 years, making it a rich area for archaeological finds. </p><p>Wood and her colleagues found some evidence of an ancient village occupied from the late Bronze Age (more than 3,000 years ago) until the Roman Empire's invasion of southern England about 2,000 years ago. At the site were the remains of animal pens, pits for disposing food, and a roundhouse — a standard British dwelling during the Bronze Age constructed with a circular plan made of stone or wood topped with a conical thatched roof.</p>
Ceremonial burial site<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzMTk0Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDgwNTIyMX0.I49n1-j8WVhKjIZS_wVWZissnk3W1583yYXB7qaGtN8/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C82%2C0%2C83&height=700" id="44da7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="46cfc8ca1c64fc404b32014542221275" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="top down view of coffin" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
A high status burial in a lead-lined coffin dating back to Roman times.
Photo Credit: HS2<p>While these ancient people moved away from Wellwick Farm before the Romans invaded, a large portion of the area was still used for ritual burials for high-status members of society, Wood told Live Science. The ceremonial burial site included a circular ditch (about 60 feet across) at the center, and was a bit of a distance away from the ditch where the (suspected) murder victim was uncovered. Additionally, archaeologists found an ornately detailed grave near the sacred burial site that dates back to the Roman period, hundreds of years later when the original Bronze Age burial site would have been overgrown.</p><p>The newer grave from the Roman period encapsulated an adult skeleton contained in a lead-lined coffin. It's likely that the outer coffin had been made of wood that rotted away. Since it was clearly an ornate burial, the occupant of the grave was probably a person of high status who could afford such a lavish burial. However, according to Wood, no treasures or tokens had been discovered. </p>
Sacred timber circle<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzMTk0Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MDAwOTQ4Mn0.eVJAUcD0uBUkVMFuMOPSgH8EssGkfLf_MjwUv0zGCI8/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C149%2C0%2C149&height=700" id="9de6a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ee66520d470b26f5c055eaef0b95ec06" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="An aerial view of the sacred circular monument." data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
An aerial view of the sacred circular monument.
Photo Credit: HS2<p>One of the most compelling archaeological discoveries at Wellwick Farm are the indications of a huge ceremonial circle once circumscribed by timber posts lying south of the Bronze Age burial site. Though the wooden posts have rotted away, signs of the post holes remain. It's thought to date from the Neolithic period to 5,000 years ago, according to Wood.</p><p>This circle would have had a diameter stretching 210 feet across and consisted of two rings of hundreds of posts. There would have been an entry gap to the south-west. Five posts in the very center of the circle aligned with that same gap, which, according to Wood, appeared to have been in the direction of the rising sun on the day of the midwinter solstice. </p><p>Similar Neolithic timber circles have been discovered around Great Britain, such as one near <a href="https://bigthink.com/culture-religion/stonehenge-sarsens" target="_blank">Stonehenge</a> that is considered to date back to around the same time. </p>
Research reveals a new evolutionary feature that separates humans from other primates.
- Researchers find a new feature of human evolution.
- Humans have evolved to use less water per day than other primates.
- The nose is one of the factors that allows humans to be water efficient.
A model of water turnover for humans and chimpanzees who have similar fat free mass and body water pools.
Credit: Current Biology
Being skeptical isn't just about being contrarian. It's about asking the right questions of ourselves and others to gain understanding.
- It's not always easy to tell the difference between objective truth and what we believe to be true. Separating facts from opinions, according to skeptic Michael Shermer, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, and others, requires research, self-reflection, and time.
- Recognizing your own biases and those of others, avoiding echo chambers, actively seeking out opposing voices, and asking smart, testable questions are a few of the ways that skepticism can be a useful tool for learning and growth.
- As Derren Brown points out, being "skeptical of skepticism" can also lead to interesting revelations and teach us new things about ourselves and our psychology.