Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Oxford University Press Blog: Add a Fourth Year to Law School, by Edward Zelinsky (Cardozo):
Three considerations counsel the need for an additional year of law school:
First, there is today much more law to learn than there was in the past. ...
Second, through expanded LLM programs, we are de facto creeping towards four years of legal education. In many areas of the law, such as tax, LLM degrees have grown in prominence. Several factors are fueling the expansion of LLM programs. Chief among these is that there is now more law to cover in a fourth year of law school. Rather than the currently haphazard growth of LLM programs, it would be more sensible to require universally a fourth year of education for all law students.
Third, many of the same critics who favor a two year law school curriculum also support expanded clinical education for law students. Such expanded clinical education should not come at the expense of substantive legal education but in addition to it. One way of thinking about the proposed fourth year of law school is that it responds to the demand for more clinical education in light of the simultaneously growing need for more substantive legal education.
The most serious argument against a fourth year of law school is the additional cost it would entail. Legal education is already too expensive. Adding a fourth year would impart even greater urgency to task of controlling the expense of law school, just as there is currently great urgency to the task of controlling the costs of undergraduate education.