Law Schools

Reducing law school to 2 years would just add to lawyer glut, says law prof

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For decades, a number of attorneys have contended that the third year of law school is an unnecessary waste of time. And, as law school graduates have become increasingly burdened with heavy debt loads, that argument has gained increasing weight.

Leading attorneys, judges and law professors in New York are discussing a possible rule change that would allow law students to take the bar exam after only two years. And two prominent law school administrators argue in a Thursday op-ed article in the New York Times (reg. req.) that this proposal makes a lot of sense.

But another law prof, writing in response to the Times op-ed article by Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez of Northwestern University School of Law and law professor Samuel Estreicher of New York University Law School, says a two-year program isn’t the answer either.

While the third year of law school is indeed “worthless” for many students, writes Scott Fruehwald in a Friday post on the Legal Skills Prof Blog, it isn’t clear why law grads who aren’t ready to practice even after three years of law school are likely to be better off after only two years of legal education. And there are other unresolved issues, too:

“First, lawyers who have only two years of law school will have to compete with lawyers who have three years of law school. Who do you think firms will hire and who will get the best assignments?” writes Fruehwald, who, as a Legal Skills Prof Blog bio details, is a seasoned legal writing professor.

“Second, as is true of public interest law firms, most law firms today do not have the resources or time to train new lawyers,” he points out. “Finally, the two-year proposal will not stop the glut of attorneys on the market today. In fact, it might make it worse because more people might go to law school if they only have to go for two years.”

Related article: “No more 3Ls? Proposal would let law students skip their third year”

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