David Frum

01.18.13

You Read it First on Frum Forum

The New York Times discovers the nascent effort to make the third year of law school optional in New York state. This isn't news to Frum Forum readers. We (or, I guess, they) wrote about this in November of 2011.

This doesn’t mean that legal education doesn’t need reform. Personally, I’d say that while the casebook method is a good teaching method, it doesn’t need to last for three years. Getting a law degree is already a graduate degree in this country and I don’t see why it should take more than two years of study. There is an old saying that in law school, they scare you to death in the first year, work you to death in the second year and bore you to death in the third year.

There’s a lot of truth to that saying, and shortening the degree program with an emphasis on a strong core curriculum (such as securities law or real estate law courses, not “law and” courses) would be helpful for getting law students out of school with lower debt burdens. Also, it would be beneficial for law schools to spend more time on legal writing courses that include non-litigation items like drafting of contracts and simulated deal closings as well as mock appellate briefs and other litigation-oriented documents.