Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yet Another New York Times Law School Debate

The New York Times has another debate on legal education, this time concerning whether law school should be three years and whether passing the bar should be a requirement for becoming a lawyer.  David Van Zandt, for example, believes that the time to get a law degree can be reduced.  However, I agree with Rose Cuison Villazor who believes that we should keep the three year model, but improve it.  She states, "But for many students, if not most, decreasing the number of years spent in law school could lead to lost opportunities or, worse, detrimental results."  She continues:

"Indeed, decreasing the number of years spent in law school might have a negative impact on nontraditional students. These include working students, individuals who have been out of school for a significant number of years, students with families, individuals with various educational or cultural disadvantages, and people with disabilities."

She concludes:

"Law schools must put greater emphasis in developing and strengthening programs that would help law students become engaged and ethical lawyers. These include increasing the availability of skills-based courses, clinical and internship programs, enhanced academic support and mentoring services, providing more mentoring and offering more interdisciplinary courses. By enhancing the traditional model instead of radically changing it, many law students might just view their legal education as an important investment in time and money. "

I would add to this that one of the most important duties of a law school is to protect clients, and most students need three years to be ready to practice.


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