Sunday, August 24, 2014
During a recent interview with the National Law Journal, SCOTUS Justice Ginsburg joined company with Justice Scalia in expressing the view that law school should remain a three year course of study, not two, or risk being perceived as a trade school. (See Scott Fruehwald's retort to Justice Scalia's comments about practical skills training in law school (and here) that Scalia made in that same speech). Justice Ginsburg told the NLJ, like Scalia before her, that the law is learned profession which means a third year is needed to help students become more academically well-rounded by giving them the chance to pursue courses a two year curriculum wouldn't allow. It also gives students the chance to gain some practical and public service experience before heading off to practice. From the NLJ interview:
I have a daughter who has been teaching [law] at Columbia for 25 years—I couldn’t believe it. I think a lot more is being done with the third year. One of the things that should be done is to require every student to have how many hours of public service. If you just needed the skills to pass the bar, two years would be enough. But if you think of law as a learned profession, then a third year is an opportunity for, on the one hand, public service and practice experience, but on the other, also to take courses that round out the law that you didn’t have time to do.
Two years—it does reduce the respect, the notion that law is a learned profession. You should know a little about legal history, you should know about jurisprudence. [Two years] makes it more of a craft like the training you need to be a good plumber.
You can read the entire interview with the NLJ here.