Friday, January 18, 2013
New York Times op-ed: Make Law Schools Earn a Third Year, by Daniel B. Rodriguez (Dean, Northwestern) & Samuel Estreicher (NYU):
Today, leaders of the New York bar, judges and law school faculty members will gather at New York University to discuss a proposed rule change. If adopted by the state’s highest court, it could make law school far more accessible to low-income students, help the next generation of law students avoid a heavy burden of debt and lead to improvements in legal education across the United States.
The proposal would amend the rules of the New York State Court of Appeals to allow students to take the state bar exam after two years of law school instead of the three now required. Law schools would no doubt continue to provide a third year of legal instruction — and most should (more on that in a bit) — but students would have the option to forgo that third year, save the high cost of tuition and, ideally, find a job right away that puts their legal training to work. ...
With this reform, law schools would have an obvious financial incentive to design creative curriculums that law students would want to pursue — a third-year program of advanced training that would allow those who wished it to become more effective litigators, specialize or better prepare for the real-world legal challenges that lie ahead.
We are confident that many law schools will be able to meet that challenge.
In fact, that evolution is already going on, as many schools (including our own) reimagine their third-year curriculums through externships, public service programs and courses that offer in-depth practical training.If this trend continues — and the two-year option would only encourage it — those who graduate from rigorous three-year programs will not only emerge with sharper legal skills, but also be more essential to employers, raising the rate of job placement out of law school....
- New York to Consider Making Third Year of Law School Optional (Jan. 14, 2013)
Update #1: National Law Journal, Law School Two-Year Option Intrigues New York's Top Judge:
A proposal to allow students to take the New York Bar Exam after two years of law school has piqued the interest of the state's top judge.
Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman stopped short of formally endorsing the idea when it was taken out for a public airing on January 18 at New York University School of Law. But he told the more than 100 gathered legal educators, practitioners and judges that the concept deserves serious study.
Update # 2: Matt Leichter, NYT Op-Ed Provides Mostly Irrelevant, Unsubstantiated Reasons for Two-Year Legal Education:
Rodriguez and Estreicher mean well when praising New York’s discussion about reducing its legal education requirement from three years to two. Unlike others who’ve written op-eds for the Grey Lady in the past, I believe they are working in good faith, and make no mistake I’m fine with reducing the number of credits people need for law school. …But I’m not fine with doing it for irrelevant or incorrect reasons because it doesn’t solve the underlying problems.
(Hat Tip: Mike Talbert.)