Law experts: State should finance academic law education in one university

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Courts. (Illustrative) Source: Silver Gutmann/Supreme Court

Various well-known legal experts said the state should only fund the training of highly qualified lawyers in just one Estonian university. In addition to free academic law studies, paid tuition for special curricula, microdegrees and addition training should be provided.

Since legal education cannot be bought in from elsewhere, the education offered in Estonia must be of the highest level, which it is not at this situation, several legal experts wrote in a letter to the prime minister, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education and Research and rectors of universities.

According to the experts, the existing training for lawyers is not sufficient to ensure the growth of the next generation of jurists, it is wasteful, does not meet Estonia's needs and hinders the growth of top-level legal scholars.

"In Estonia, legal education diplomas are given to too many people who have actually not passed the subjects, which are essential to know perfectly as a prerequisite for legal work. In the chronic underfunding conditions of higher education, scarce resources between several universities reduce the opportunities to provide quality education anywhere," the letter reads.

Since many professions also require a master's degree and the universities' degrees are not comparable, lawyers find that legal education could be offered in just one university as integrated studies, i.e. no separate bachelor's and master's degrees.

The experts also point out that a common profession exam should be introduced for highly qualified positions, such as judges, lawyers, prosecutors and notaries.

Among other things, lawyers should only be trained on the basis of state-ordered legal training and a distinction must be made between academic education and additional studies, micro-degrees and special curricula.

Concurrently, it should be calculated how many students would receive a free education and the content of different programmes should be assessed to take into line with the needs of Estonia, the letter reads.

The letter has been signed by multiple top legal experts, including Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Villu Kõve, Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise, Prosecutor General Andres Parmas, head of the Estonian Bar Association Jaanus Tehver, Chairman of the Chamber of Notaries Merle Saar-Johanson, executive president of the Estonian Lawyers Union, chairwoman of the Estonian Academic Law Society Irene Kull and the chairwoman of the Estonian Chamber of Bailiffs and Trustees in Bankruptcy Terje Eipre.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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