Monday, February 18, 2013

Keep Law School at Three Years - NJ Law Journal Editorial Board

Reviewing the options for two year legal education - not the reduced classroom hours being considered in New York  but the reduced "residency" requirements - the New Jersey Law Journal Editorial Board calls for retaining the current three year model.  We are skeptical about outside of school mentoring models.  There are few controls on the nature of the supervision - and today's students already get a lot of that via externships and clinics.  As a champion of what I call engaged legal education I  am skeptical of thetwo year dip into practice post clerkship  after elite law school' model of faculty selection - because it shorts the practical.   But I don't think that being `too academic' is the core problem. It is the technology and economic restructuring that creates too few jobs, rather than too many years of law school.  Cost is of course a key factor but the root of that  is too little support for public law schools which can produce government and public interest lawyers. And there is too little funding for public defenders and too little "civil Gideon" such as for family law and immigration issues. - GWC

Keep Law School at Three Years - NJ Law Journal Editorial Board

We appreciate the observation of the dean of Vermont Law School that a two-year legal education is an appropriate response to concerns about the financial aspects of legal education, in that it "reduces the cost of legal education and allows students to enter the work force a year earlier."
But on balance, we align ourselves with those who believe that there is more at stake than finances. The first two years of study are mostly devoted to what the law is — that is, sufficient information to pass a bar exam. The third year deals largely with the circumstances in which the law is applied, which should include practical clinical work under law school supervision, law review and moot court. It provides an opportunity to see the law's effect in various areas, giving the student a time to reflect on which areas are personally of most interest. And it engages the mind more broadly in legal problem solving, both orally and in writing.
The third year is, in practical terms, a graduate period within a graduate program, which should not be compressed into the first two-year's experience.

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