Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Legal knowledge should be a core subject

Legal+knowledge+should+be+a+core+subject
Kara Lee

Every day, there are thousands of civil and criminal cases filed in courts throughout the country. From 1998 to 2017, in federal civil suits, plaintiffs who represented themselves only got a judgment in their favor 4% of the time, while defendants who represented themselves got a judgment in their favor 14% of the time, assuming the plaintiff had representation. One in four cases in civil court were found to be filed pro se, which is a legal term meaning to represent oneself; that constituted over 15 thousand cases a year. However, not all of them are lawyers. In fact, there are only 1.3 million lawyers, according to the ABA.

This all being said, there are not nearly enough lawyers, and to get what people call a “good lawyer,” that costs money, and a lot of it. The majority of pro se filers do not have legal knowledge themselves, so would it be beneficial to have it? Obviously, having legal knowledge will not cause the law profession to die off, as having to do constant research and preparation is not for the faint of heart. It can help you save money, however, and may even lead you to find violations of your rights that you would not have known you had if you did not have prior legal knowledge.

From experience, people would tell you that learning about the law will only help you in life. It will never hurt you to know it. Now you may never be as good as a lawyer is; however, you will be able to say that you are more knowledgeable than the majority of the population. The best thing is that the law can not only help defend rights, but it can also help you in business, such as by learning what is considered to be one of the most complicated tax systems in the world.

The question that people may have regarding this question is what do you teach, and when do you teach it? The percentage of high schoolers enrolling in college immediately after high school has been on a downward trend since 2019, with 62% of high school students enrolled immediately after graduation in 2021. Having legal knowledge should be seen as essential to living a successful adult life and should be one of the last topics you learn before you graduate from high school. Now the second question is what should be taught? This is not going to be a typical case law class; instead, it should teach the skills one needs to know to be able to research the law effectively and to learn how to understand and interpret it, with maybe one or two cases.

The advent of ChatGPT has arguably cut down the amount of time needed to research statutes and regulations, and the legal industry agrees, with Andrew Perlman, the Dean of Suffolk University Law School, saying: “For the legal industry, ChatGPT may portend an even more momentous shift than the advent of the internet.” A study by Harvard Law School stated: “Bing Chat is already operating at the level of a B/B+ law student, and it will only get better with time.” All in all, AI has become an integral part of our lives, and using it to help research the law would be beneficial.

Currently, in the State of Texas, the core curriculum for public high schools consists of mathematics, with two of the credits being algebra I and geometry, science, which includes biology as a credit, social studies, foreign languages, physical education, art and English. Should a law class be added to the curriculum, it could take one of the elective credits (bringing it down to 4) or one of the foreign language credits (bringing it down to 1).

Legal knowledge as a basic requirement of life could help hold companies accountable and ensure equitable justice for all.

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About the Contributors
Andrew Dotson, Staff Writer
Andrew (He/Him) is a Freshman at UTSA majoring in Cybersecurity. His hobbies include coding, gaming, tinkering with Raspberry Pi and helping educate and teach others about technology
Kara Lee, Graphic Editor
Kara is a communication major on track to graduate in 2025. After graduating they hope to work for non-profits that specialize in environmental concerns so they can give back to the planet that provides so much for us. When Kara is not in school or working they can be found either drawing or hiking.

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