Law Schools

Proposal to let law students take NY bar after 2 years is worth study, says state's chief judge


A proposal to let individuals who have completed two years of law school take the New York bar exam before they have earned their juris doctor degree is worth further study, the state’s chief judge said at a recent conference.

Jonathan Lippman didn’t formally endorse the idea, which is still being discussed and, at least potentially, revised. But he did tell others attending a Friday session at New York University School of Law that the proposal may have merit, the National Law Journal (sub. req.) reports.

“I don’t think there is anyone on a law school faculty or on the bench who would say, ‘This is crazy,’ ” Lippman said. Citing the cost of law school, among other factors, he said the proposal “challenges all of us involved in legal education to, whatever the length of law school, look at how we can do better.”

Opponents have said lawyers need more training to be able to practice well, not less, and have raised the specter of a larger pool of unemployed young attorneys than already exists, since the idea could increase the number of bar exam test-takers.

It’s not entirely clear how the concept, if it was approved, would interact with American Bar Association law school accreditation standards. However, as presently contemplated, the proposal apparently would create a class of bar admittees without juris doctor degrees.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “No more 3Ls? Proposal would let law students skip their third year”

ABAJournal.com: “Reducing law school to 2 years would just add to lawyer glut, says law prof”

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