Friday, January 18, 2013

Let's take this two-year/three-year law school proposal a step further.

Today's New York Times has an op-ed by Dan Rodriguez and Samuel Estreicher suggesting that the third year of law school could be optional and used for specialization (here).

I'm not opposed to the idea, and others have suggested it (or things like it) before.  For a good post discussing the pros and cons, see here by Deborah Merritt on the new blog, Law School Cafe.

What intrigues me about the proposal is that recognizes that law school shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all option.  I'm enough of a risk-taker to think that, if state bars would grant a limited license to the folks who graduate after two years and a full license to those who take all three, then those graduates who want to minimize their law school costs and have the (very fulfilling) life as a lawyer doing some sorts of things (but not all "lawyer things") could still serve their clients very well.  (Law is, after all, an undergraduate degree in most countries.)  Two-year graduates who want to expand their practices could maybe return to law school for that third year, or take an additional certification exam, or demonstrate additional competence and judgment in some yet-undiscovered way.

The nice thing is that a move to the two-year/three-year model will, by necessity, force law schools to be more deliberate about their curricular choices. 

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