TALLINN - In June, well-known legal scholars proposed to bring academic legal studies under one university, but Minister of Justice Maris Lauri has now announced that she is not in favor of bringing legal studies under one university, the Estonian daily Postimees writes.
In the address, a number of well-known legal scholars find that the organization of academic legal studies needs to be fundamentally changed. Among other things, they believe that the state should fund only the training of lawyers with high academic qualification and do so in only one university. The petition has been signed by, among others, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Villu Kove and Chancellor of Justice Ulle Madise. By now, Minister of Justice Maris Lauri has responded to the address.
Lauri told Postimees that a lot of students study in the field of law. "There is no rational point to putting all these people together in one school. In my opinion, certain competition and a certain school-based specialization are necessary. This may increase quality, force various higher education institutions to make an effort when it comes to the content of their curricula," the minister said.
In their address, the legal scholars find that in the conditions of chronic underfunding of higher education, the spraying of scarce resources between several universities reduces the opportunities to provide quality education anywhere. Legal education is plagued on the one hand by a waste of money and on the other by a chronic lack of money.
"The latter intensified when paid full-time study was banned in higher education and a functioning financing model has not been achieved. In particular, long-term underfunding results in the inability to sufficiently involve highly qualified lecturers, as they cannot be paid a competitive salary," it is said in the address.
The minister of justice said that free higher education has now created problems in all areas -- there are not enough financial resources, everyone is in trouble and it is not possible to attract financial resources. "People are willing to pay for education, but we have created a system where it is not possible to do so, at the same time there is not enough financial resources," Lauri said.
One of the solutions she sees is to create an opportunity where people who are willing to pay for education could do so, as at the moment, this has been made impossible in her opinion, especially if the person wants to study in Estonian.
In their address, legal scholars state that only less than half of those who have obtained a law degree can pass the professional examination of a judge, lawyer, notary, bailiff or bankruptcy trustee.
The minister of justice said that the large number of those who fail may indicate that professional organizations ensure that the best get to these positions. "What I am proposing is that we form a working group to review the occupational qualifications system -- whether it is necessary to make any changes," Lauri said.