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Arguments For and Against Two-Year Law School

The idea of a 2-year law schools is wonderful. It will give law students more flexibility in obtaining their degrees, and may even attract potential students to apply more to law school. It can also help get law schools out of the “rut” they are in with low application rates and less qualified students taking the LSAT.

There are a number of programs that now offer a two-year JD, but they still require the same coursework as a three-year degree, and costs about the same price. It’s basically three years of law school packed into two, and at no discounted price. Many say that three years is too long to obtain a law degree when it can definitely be done in a shorter amount of time; that three years seems impractical.

There have been many opinions on the future of law school also. Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard professor, says law school should consist of two years of study and one year of clinical practice. Georgetown professor, Philip Schrag, argues the three years is necessary to cover all the legal basics, and Bruce Ackerman of Yale states the third year is needed to cover the social science and statistics aspect of law that is much needed to practice in the 21st century. Shortening law school could also mean less jobs for professors and administrators, as well as less money to for the universities.

On the other hand, NYU’s Sam Estericher says the third year should be optional. It has also been argued that law school can be completed in even less time than two years, citing the British law school system, which is essentially one year, and still pumps out quality lawyers. There is also an argument that accreditation requirements are too strict and should be relaxed. Eric Posner of Slate argues that “the excessively strict or rigid accreditation requirements deprive the public of low cost legal services” by restricting the number of fast-track two-year programs. If there would be more, affordable two-year programs, people wouldn’t have to charge as much for legal services because their debt isn’t as high.

Where does this leave us? It could be that everyone’s opinion is right when it comes to legal education. There may be some of us who would like more legal education experience with longer law school programs, while others may just want to get through law school and into the workforce sooner. Overall, it may be better to have both options for people to choose from since this is their career path and what they choose to do with it.
What do you think the future of legal education should look like?

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