TaxProf Blog

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Atlantic: The Two-Year Law Degree: A Great Idea That Will Never Come to Be

AtlanticThe Atlantic, The Two-Year Law Degree: A Great Idea That Will Never Come to Be:

You can barely go a week without hearing ominous news about law schools and the legal profession. Applications are down, job prospects are awful, schools may close, less qualified people are sitting for the LSAT. The latest in the string of bad news is a drop in people taking the LSAT. “Law schools slump” is the new “dog bites man.”

Some, like President Obama, suggest that one of the ways out of this slump is to shorten law school to two years. As a former law student who left after one year, I think allowing for more flexibility in the length of law school is a great idea. Too bad it will never happen.

(There are a handful of programs that offer two-year JDs; problem is, they still require the same coursework and generally the same tuition. In other words, it’s three years jammed into two without any discount.)

In my experience, law school is too long and too impractical. Many law schools are masquerading as liberal-arts colleges when they should be preparing students for the post-graduation jobs they’re likely to take.

Case in point: My former law school offered a potpourri of utterly fascinating and utterly useless classes: Art Law; Greek Tragedy and Philosophy; Religion, Law and Politics. You get the idea.

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Law shools masquerading as liberal arts colleges? Yes, that is true, at least for some schools. But then, what do you expect when the T14 (why don't we just make it T15, for goodness sake?) hire professors with Ph.D.s but not J.D.s? As for shortening to two years, I don't think so. We need a serious curriculum reform, not a reduction in credit hours. How about a little practical stuff--taught by real lawyers who have actually done it for ten years or so?

Posted by: Publius Novus | Nov 14, 2013 7:41:48 AM