Problems of Legal Education and Ways to Resolve Them
Читати українською

The judicial reform in Ukraine can only be considered successful when the judiciary is staffed with professional judges, characterised by high integrity. The foundations of a future lawyer's behavioural patterns are laid in law school, which explains the critical need for high-quality legal education in Ukraine.

Today, the situation with legal education borders on critical. Employers are not satisfied with the level of knowledge and skills of law school graduates. Moreover, the graduates themselves demonstrate low scores in the entrance exams to master's programs in Law. However, hundreds of educational institutions train future lawyers, and the number of Law graduates significantly exceeds the market demand.

Despite the positive changes that have taken place in recent years, much remains to be done to ensure that legal education is in line with the best international practices and provides qualified staff — in particular, to the judiciary.

Earlier, we pointed out the need for systemic changes in legal education and proposed our solutions.

Continue reading to find out whether the acute issues and the scope of problems with legal education have changed and how they can be resolved.

І. Lack of a comprehensive vision of higher legal education
What is the problem?

Today, the system of legal education is unbalanced. Lawyers in Ukraine are trained by hundreds of universities, with many failing to provide an adequate level of education. The number of law students is the largest among all majors. Legal education is obtained in the degrees of junior bachelor, bachelor, master and professional junior bachelor in various specialities. Qualification requirements to positions where legal education is required are mainly unfounded. No research is done to predict the staff needs for persons with legal training on the market. The government order for Law graduates does not correspond to either the government or the market needs. Legal education is highly commercialised.
How can the problem be solved?
0%
Review all qualification requirements for positions that require higher legal education, identify positions where such education is needed and what degree makes the most sense in the specific situation.
0%
Change the licensing conditions for educational activities in regulated specialities, with particular requirements to staffing and organisational support of law schools.
1%
Introduce Integrated Master's program based on complete secondary education.

40%
Optimise the government order for Law graduates based on the actual market needs.
ІІ. Lack of competition in legal education
What is the problem?

Numerous lawyers are trained by law schools under the Ministry of Interior, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU), the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Defense, which provide special terms of legal training. The distribution of the government order for such establishments takes place without broad competition. The information on students who study for budget funds in such educational institutions is not reflected in the Unified State Electronic Database on Education. Private universities cannot yet fully compete for the government order. Some law schools engage in dumping on tuition fees.

Problem's manifestation


According to open data from the Unified State Electronic Database on Education, 16.6% of all Law bachelors (9999 out of 60168) and 15.3% of all Law masters (2111 out of 13781) study in educational institutions with special conditions. However, these statistics do not reflect a significant number of students who study for government money. In 2020, 54% of the government order (1516 out of 2916 places) for the training of bachelors of Law was assigned to institutions with special training conditions. The cost of tuition at some universities is less than UAH 8,000 (less than EUR 250 or USD 290 as of March 2021) per year.
How can the problem be resolved?
0%
Stop training Law students in speciality 081 "Law" in educational institutions with special training conditions. In the short term, introduce unified and transparent tools of competition for government order.
15%
Adopt the necessary regulations for full access of private universities to the government order.
50%
Improve the mechanism of a minimum tuition fee in law schools for students who study on a contractual basis.
10%
Introduce a broad competition for all state contracting authorities (the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Finance, the SSU).
ІІІ. The system of admission to law schools does not guarantee the selection of motivated and capable students.
What is the problem?

It is quite easy to enter the Law faculty of a less prestigious university, as the requirements are not high. Low threshold and competitive scores mean that it is not necessarily strong and motivated applicants who become Law students.

Problem's manifestation

In 2020, over 50% of applicants for a master's program in Law had not taken the Independent External Testing while entering the bachelor's program. More than a third of applications had Geography, Biology, Chemistry or Physics as competitive subjects. The percentage of those enrolled for a bachelor's or junior specialist's degree is 80% of the total number of applicants.

How can the problem be resolved?
60%
Establish reasonable requirements for the admission of potential lawyers at all educational levels.
0%
Add the testing for logical, analytical, and critical thinking to the Independent External Testing system, although it is currently only provided when applying for a master's degree in Law.
60%
Increase threshold and competitive scores required by law schools.
ІV. The organisation of training in law schools does not meet modern market needs.
What is the problem?

Many students study Law remotely, with the quality of such training lower than full-time education. Law schools often use outdated teaching methods. Many educational programs do not take into account the current needs of the market. Little attention is paid to the ethical standards, the study of foreign languages, innovative legal tools, and the European Court of Human Rights case-law. The practical training of students is organised in a conceptually flawed manner and does little to ensure the acquisition of practical skills. Not enough attention is paid to academic integrity, either.

Problem's manifestation

According to open data from the Unified State Electronic Database on Education, the share of Law students who study remotely constitutes 33.7% (30781 out of 91562). Bachelors who study remotely tend to have lower scores for entrance exams for a master's degree. A survey of employers on the quality of legal education has found that almost 80% are not satisfied with the level of knowledge and skills of Law graduates. Furthermore, 82.8% of Law students claim that the educational curricula of law schools are outdated, while 66.7% say that there is no real opportunity to select classes.

How can the problem be resolved?
0%
Transform the system of remote training in Law.
60%
Ensure the development of educational curricula with mandatory (rather than formal) involvement of legal community representatives.
60%
Develop and implement courses on legal ethics and integrity, international human rights protection, ECtHR case law, and develop a culture of severe intolerance to academic dishonesty in the educational process.
15%
Pay more attention in the development of educational programs to components aimed at developing practical skills, critical and analytical thinking skills, soft skills, and change approaches to the organisation and content of student practice ensuring the acquisition of practical skills.
50%
Provide a real opportunity for students to choose their classes.
V. Lack of effective and independent control of learning outcomes
What is the problem?

The regular and final attestation of students is mostly ineffective, which means that different law schools mostly graduate lawyers of different professional levels, who will, however, acquire the same professional rights.

Problem's manifestation

More than half of applicants for a master's degree in Law fail to get the objectively low threshold scores. In 2020, almost a third of applicants failed to pass the Single Entrance Exam (an independent exam in a foreign language). Nearly 80% of the surveyed employers note law school graduates' low level of knowledge and skills. Over 65% of the judicial staff support the introduction of an independent state exam.
How can the problem be resolved?
50%
Introduce an independent and transparent Single State Qualification Exam for all Law graduates across the country.
30%
Before the full-scale implementation of the SSQE, strengthen requirements and internal control for regular and final certification in law schools.
We strongly believe that resolving these key problems would significantly improve legal training in Ukraine and help recruit professional, conscientious staff to the judiciary.