Thursday, November 7, 2013

Should law school be 4 years?

From a post by Professor Edward Zelinsky (Cardozo) at the Oxford University Press's Blog:  "Add a Fourth Year to Law School."  an excerpt:

President Obama has joined with other critics of contemporary legal education in calling for the reduction of law school to a two year program. The President and these other critics are wrong. Indeed, the remedy they propose for the ills of legal education has it exactly backward. Law school should not be shortened; it should be lengthened. The standard curriculum for a juris doctorate degree should be increased to four years.


Three considerations counsel the need for an additional year of law school:


First, there is today much more law to learn than there was in the past. There are today whole new fields of law which did not exist a generation ago, e.g., health care law. Moreover, within pre-existing areas of the law, the amount of law has expanded enormously over the last two decades.


Consider, for example, the area in which I write and teach, taxation. No one doubts that the current tax law is more complicated and extensive than the taw law in effect when I went to law school. Important subspecialties, e.g., pensions, partnership tax, and international tax, have grown in complexity and importance.


Many critics belittle the substantive business of legal education by dismissing my tax courses as theoretical or doctrinal. But my courses are where my students learn the law and there is much more law to learn than there was a generation ago.


Imagine a critic of medical education who looked at the explosion of medical science in recent decades and called for less medical schooling. That is precisely what the advocates of a two year JD program are doing.

Continue reading here.


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