The Great Law School Debate: 2 or 3 Years?
President Obama does not think so.
During an August 23 speech at the State University of Binghamton, Binghamton, New York, Obama broached the subject of cutting the law school curriculum by one year .
During a Q & A session, the president talked about what needs to be done by all parties involved in higher education to reduce costs.
First, he mentioned what governments must do. Then he said, "But what is true also, though, is that universities and faculty need to come up with ways to also cut costs while maintaining quality -- because that's what we're having to do throughout our economy."
He said as a former academician he was sympathetic to the requirements of higher education. But he was certain that such modifications could be made .
"This is probably controversial to say, but what the heck, I'm in my second term so I can say it," President Obama said. "I believe, for example, that law schools would probably be wise to think about being two years instead of three years -- because by the third year -- in the first two years young people are learning in the classroom. The third year they'd be better off clerking or practicing in a firm, even if they weren't getting paid that much. But that step alone would reduce the cost for the student."
"Now, the question is can law schools maintain quality and keep good professors and sustain themselves without that third year," he continued."My suspicion is, is that if they thought creatively about it, they probably could."
But President Obama's proposal was met with derision from at least one liberal law scholar and opposition from a law school dean - a law school that some would say leans to the ideological right.
Jonathan Turley, a legal scholar and professor at George Washington University Law School, openly criticized Obama's proposal. He excoriated it in the August 26 entry of his award winning blog.
"After leading an assault on civil liberties and privacy in his Administration (as well as blocking efforts to prosecute Bush officials for torture), President Barack Obama may just be the last person who should be giving advice on training lawyers," Turley wrote. "Yet, Obama told lawyers last Friday that he would like to see law school cut by one-third to reduce time studying legal principles and history. Of course, given the number of constitutional provisions that Obama has effectively negated, it may take less time to study the remaining laws after the Obama years."
Turley's diatribe was not complete. He said that he never favored a two-year law school curriculum. He believes it sacrifices quality for cost. But he threw a dart at the Obama administration's policies in general, in the process of criticizing Obama's proposal.