Justice minister doesn't favor merging legal education in one university

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Maris Lauri. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Minister of Justice Maris Lauri (Reform) has rejected a proposal from high-profile legal scholars to consolidate academic legal education into one university.

In June, various prominent lawyers approached the government and university leaders with a proposal that the state should fund the training of highly qualified lawyers in only one university.

In addition to free academic law training, paid tuition should also be provided for special curriculums, micro degrees and in-service training.

The appeal was signed by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Villu Kõve, Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise, Chief Prosecutor Jaanus Tehver, Chief Prosecutor Andres Parmas, Chief Notary Merle Saar-Johanson, Executive President of the Bar Association Mai Palmipuu, Chairwoman of the Academic Law Society Irene Kull, and Terje Eipre, Chair of the Chamber of Bailiffs and Bankruptcy Trustees.

Two-and-a-half-months later, the Minister of Justice Maris Lauri sent a reply to the petitioners. Lauri said that, in addition to public funding, she considers it right to include private money in higher education, but this must be done in a way that does not prevent talented but low-income young people from acquiring education.

"This means the need to develop a model where student loans, scholarships, grants, etc. exist. Unfortunately, the views of different parties on these issues have so far been radically different and the will to find a compromise and a common solution is lacking. funding issues can be resolved quickly. But there is hope," Lauri said.

On the one hand, Lauri says she agrees that dividing the legal education between different educational institutions may lead to a decrease in the quality of teaching, due to the fact that there are not enough strong teachers everywhere and the level and motivation of students may not always be sufficient.

"However, I do not think it is right to concentrate legal education in one university, but I am in favor of cooperation and specificities between different universities," she added

Once again, Lauri concurs with the second proposal of the petitioners that jurisprudence could be considered a national science. At the same time, in Lauri's opinion, Estonia also needs legal specialists, ones who have excellent knowledge of international law, as well as EU law and that of other countries, meaning the possibility of acquiring the corresponding subjects in Estonia should not be ruled out.

Lauri said that the proposal made in the address for the transition to a five-year law degree needs further thorough consideration.

However, the Minister of Justice promises to form a working group to discuss, in addition to vocational examinations, the possibilities of organizing a common basic examination for legal professions.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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