TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Olivas: It's Time to Fix the 3-Year J.D. Problem

National Law Journal op-ed:  It's About Time to Fix the 3-Year J.D. Problem, by Michael A. Olivas (Houston; former President, AALS):

Even the President says law school takes too long, but a rush to the finish line is not the solution.

The process for law school accreditation by the ABA is under severe attack as being too rigid and too expensive, amid rising tuition costs and a tight job market. Even President Barack Obama weighed in on August 23, suggesting that the third year of law school should be outsourced to firms and legal organizations to engage in yearlong externships.

In the discussions that have followed, it is important to separate the two related strands of thought: that three years is too long and can be shortened, and that the time on task — meaning the minutes of instruction ABA-accredited schools must provide to law students — can be cut to allow law students to opt out of a third year and become partially licensed.

The first option is already possible and growing, while the second, more extreme argument, is a bad idea. ...

If today's third-year graduates are not "practice-ready," how much less preparation will they have in a two-year structure? Those who advocate reducing our time on task by one-third have a substantial burden of persuasion, and there is nothing in today's increasingly complex practice that will justify this regression to a lower mean.

Legal Education | Permalink


Law faculty: The barbarians at the gates are there because the Landellian model (as applied in the last 75 years) has proven ineffective and extremely inefficient at educating practicing lawyers.

You lack the educational arrows in your quiver to serve that mission. Many reformers really want an educational revolution, going back to an apprenticeship model.

Is there value added from the current law school system? Yes, but it is not worth the cost in time and treasure.

Were there good lawyers in the pre-Langdellian system? Of course, some of the best our country has ever known.

Is there some reason that law must be taught in the current manner? No, unlike medicine (or even business) there is little in the way of "scholarship" or technology that is necessary for a competent practitioner.

Posted by: Inigo Montoya, esq | Sep 3, 2013 3:30:28 PM