In a survey of 371 legal professionals conducted by Business Insider, 61% of participants opposed shortening law school to two years from three years.
“Two years hardly seems enough time to learn basic legal principles while also gaining work experience prior to actually joining the workforce,” one respondent wrote. “There are already too many lawyers as is; cutting a year off law school would only make it worse and produce underdeveloped graduates.”
Of the legal professionals surveyed, just 31% said that law school should be shortened to two years, and 7.8% did not respond.
Most lawyers agreed that a two-year course of study would be rushed and incomplete.
“Having three years allows you to take more specialised classes and helps you figure out what areas of the law you would like to practice,” said one respondent.
The possibility of shortening law school has been the subject of much debate. More students are seeking affordable education, and a third year of law school can cost students an extra $US30,000-$US50,000.
President Barack Obama, a Harvard law grad and former law school professor, weighed in last year: “I believe that law schools would probably be wise to think about being two years instead of three years,” he said, adding that students can learn all they need to pass the bar in two years.
Still, many lawyers believe just two years of law school would leave students unprepared.
“Two years would be cramming it in,” wrote another. “There is just too much information to absorb.”
Others argued that shortening the course would flood the job market with unqualified lawyers.
“There’s enough lawyers,”
wrote one participant. “Don’t make it easier for there to be more with less skill.”
“Law schools are producing too many lawyers,” said another. “If the time was shortened even more lawyers would graduate and be unsuccessful in finding jobs.”
Others felt that while the third year is necessary, it should be more focused on hands-on training and job placement.
“I think the third year should be a residency type of program where you actually practice law rather than just go to classes,” one respondent wrote.
“I think it should be a two year academic program with a third year focused on internships, job placement and Bar Exam preparation,” said yet another participant.
A handful of participants thought the third year of law school is a waste of time and money altogether.
“Law school is so prohibitively expensive, and jobs are so difficult to find, that cutting a year would be a huge benefit to students,” one respondent said. “The third year is not really necessary for your development. You learn the skills you need to learn from law school (critical thinking, analysing a problem, research and writing skills) in the first two years.”
“3 years is prohibitively expensive,” wrote another. “Not to mention, the sooner you graduate the sooner you can start paying back your loans and actually make an income.”
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