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Would losing the 3L year really reduce students’ costs? Bloggers discuss

Aug 30, 2013, 01:30 pm CDT

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I have no doubt that the schools would adjust tuition and fees to maintain their cash flow. But a two year program would save a years worth of casebooks and room, board, parking, transportation and other living expenses. That would be a five figure savings wherever they are.

By W.R.T. on 2013 08 30, 2:54 pm CDT

Would hiring firms prefer attys with a 3 year degree over those with a 2 year degree?

By Dr Phun on 2013 08 30, 4:34 pm CDT

Opportunity costs are an expensive component of law school. Many 2-year graduates could find jobs that pay well, not just low-paid internships.

By LTE on 2013 08 30, 4:53 pm CDT

So are people finally starting to see how ridiculous the two year option is. The better solution is to follow the example of the UK. Make the law degree a bachelors degree. You could also add a year in practice requirement prior to being licensed, like the Accounting Profession has prior to being a CPA. Law School could remain 3 years with an extra year for the University general req's. A JD match system could even be put in place like the medical schools have.

Some would claim that the legal profession should follow the medical school model with experiential learning throughout the process, but that model is completely unsustainable. If it wasn't for insurance we would see tragic access to medical service disparities far worse than in the legal profession today. The public would be even more outraged at the medical profession than they are at the legal profession.

The way to do experiential learning is to completely change the education and employment model. Law Firms would hire those interested in the legal profession but untrained. Then they would need to do courses on online and on demand. Similar to instructional videos. Their could be an interactive feature built in as well. If all parties were rational, in the economics sense, this model would dominate in the end. But we all know that most lawyers are not economically rational so lets start with the small step that nearly every other academic area has taken and convert the doctorate program into a bachelors degree program.

By BCReed on 2013 08 30, 5:06 pm CDT

So in a time of declining law school applications, the school that charges 50k per year for three years will be able to charge 75k per year for two? I don't think so.

Also, no lawyer is adequately trained after three years if theory to actually practice law. Lopping off one year will put more lawyers into the only system of training (actual practice) that really works earlier.

Of course law schos and law professors don't like this idea because it turns their cash cow into ground chuck.

By JCG on 2013 08 30, 9:33 pm CDT

Education is being sacrificed by many of these proposals. Making law a bachelor's degree means less education in other areas which are essential to being an educated person. We're not paralegals. Which brings me to the other problem ignored. When legal education is downgraded to where it requires less education, lawyer's incomes will go down. It's happened in other fields. Part of the reason the public accepts that lawyers charge what they do is because of the prestige behind a degree that required a high level of difficulty and dedication. Incomes plummet when qualifying for that profession becomes easier.

The public is already confused about the difference between lawyers and paralegals due to document mills springing up everywhere. It's short sighted to focus only on reducing the cost of law school without understanding how downgrading the profession will affect long term income potential for all lawyers.

By Santana on 2013 08 30, 9:47 pm CDT

If the government wants to help rising debt, three easy actions would have immediate effect:

1. reducing the interest rate on student loans to 3 percent

2. Students with debt of 10 k or more are waived from paying Federal Income Tax until debt is within a reasonable range.

3. Reduce amount of money students can borrow will force Universities to adjust cost of tuition, housing and student fees.

If students can borrow 50k for law school, law schools will align their pricing structure and fees to amount of government lending.

Young lawyers will put off starting families and buying homes while they are paying off student loan debt .

Interest is currently 6-8.5 percent or more than 2 and 1/2 times my home mortgage rate.

Shame on us.....

By Michelle on 2013 09 02, 11:57 pm CDT

Are you kidding Michelle? Immunity from income taxes, passing the burden to other tax payers because a lawyer has a student loan? That's the equivalent of having the federal government and other tax payers pay for our educations. Seems rather selfish. The issue is between the debtor, the bank and higher education, to make it more affordable not to make it an entitlement.

By Santana on 2013 09 03, 1:48 pm CDT

@Sanatana,

Don't be naïve: the federal government has always made the vast majority of student loans. The banks barely played a role other than that of rent-seeking middlemen under FFELP. Pure-play private student loans comprise less than 15% of the aggregate student loan pie. The federal government and taxpayers have always been underwriting higher ed.

The issue is how the numbers will play out. By the Department of Education's numbers, federal student lending is vastly profitable, and will earn the government $184 billion over the next decade - primarily because the student pay back the loans at a much higher rate than the DOE borrows it. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, however, nearly 1 in 3 student loans are delinquent, and no one is expecting it to get better. Most serious prognosticators of higher education believe that we are approaching the crest of a bubble.


But make no mistake, some of Michelle's points are salient. Family formations for the 25-34 cohort have never been lower. The stalling housing market is generally blamed on student loan debt and the consequent inability of younger buyers to obtain mortgages. Many universities and law schools have been thoroughly blinded by Veblen Good Theory to the lasting detriment of their students. One can go on and on.

By Unemployed Northeastern on 2013 09 07, 5:07 pm CDT

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