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Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, January 25, 2013

Estreicher: Law Schools May Close if States Permit Students to Take Bar After Two Years

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As much as this seems like a first-step towards a two-year law degree, I am glad to see it. However, the interviewer does a good job of raising the main objections:

1. What is to prevent schools from just jacking up tuition by 33% to avoid the loss of tuition if this problem proves popular.

2. What sort of employment prospects will these students have? Will they be able to practice outside of New York? Wil they qualify for government jobs?

Ultimately, I doubt many will take the option. Sort of like California's apprentice route: it's technically available, but few avail themselves of it.

Posted by: john | Jan 25, 2013 2:12:22 PM

Students know after the first year whether they have a shot at getting a decent paying lawyer job, or a legal position at all. Only 55% of graduates nationwide in 2011 (nine months after graduation) landed full time jobs as lawyers lasting at least a year.

At many law schools it would make sense for many students--particularly (but not exclusively) students in the bottom half of the class--to take the bar after the second year, cutting their losses. Given their poor job prospects anyway, why would they spend another $50,000 to $70,000 (tuition and living) for the third year if they had the option to leave earlier?

Remember that some students today are already dropping out after the first year because they know their job prospects are dismal (this proposal might entice them to stay through the second year).

If this proposal is adopted, my guess is that the third year class at many New York law schools will be thinned out.

Posted by: Brian Tamanaha | Jan 26, 2013 7:34:32 AM