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August 23, 2013 2:22 PM Two-year Law School?

By Daniel Luzer

LawBooks

While the education pundits are focused on the reforms proposed by President Obama yesterday, the White House bus tour of college affordability through upstate New York is continuing. And Obama’s proposing more reforms.

According to an Associated Press piece:

President Barack Obama says law schools in the U.S. should cut down to two years instead of three to cut costs for students.
Obama says students do most of their classroom learning in the first two years of law school. He says the third year would be better spent clerking for a judge or working in a law firm.
The president says the question is whether schools could keep good professors and sustain themselves without that third year. But he says they could if they were creative.

Sure, we could do this. We could also eliminate the separate undergraduate college/law school distinction altogether and just let people become lawyers by studying law right out of high school, the way it works in most developed counties. Or, even better, we could remove the need for law school at all and just let people take the bar examination and become lawyers whenever they felt ready for it. That’s the way it used to work in the United States (and, indeed, still works in a few states here).

Obama’s idea is not a serious proposal, of course. There’s no federal policy that requires law school to be three years long. The three-year time frame has developed over time due to demands of the legal profession and competition between law schools.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer

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