Tuesday, September 3, 2013
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.
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
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.