Professional Education in Medicine and Law: Structural Differences, Common Failings, Possible Opportunities
Medicine and law emerged in the early decades of the twentieth century as strong, highly organized professions with high status, increasing rewards, and growing autonomy. Professional claims of esoteric knowledge, collegial solidarity, and disinterestedness were accepted by members of the profession and the general public. Professional schools in both disciplines forged university connections and achieved dominant positions in the preparation of new professionals. Patterns of medical and legal education established during this formative period, extending roughly from 1890 to 1920, have been highly persistent. Despite these similarities, educators in the two professions have proceeded in isolation from one another. There has been little knowledge or consideration by those in one profession of developments in the other. Little effort has been made to compare the two fields of professional education and to ask whether each could learn from the experience of the other. This paper is a preliminary exploration of this subject. It begins with an overview of persistent differences in medical and legal education, examines and attempts to explain some common failings, and concludes with some tentative comments on what each sphere of professional education might learn from the other. The focus in each case will be on preparation leading to the basic professional degree (M.D. in the case of medicine and J.D. in the case of law), rather than subsequent graduate or specialized education.
Roger C. Cramton, Professional Education in Medicine and Law: Structural Differences, Common Failings, Possible Opportunities, 34 Clev. St. L. Rev. 349 (1985-1986)