There is a movement to reduce law school education from three years to two years. That is crazy. If anything, we should extend law school for two additional years and divide that additional education into two skill tracks. One track would be “office practice” and the other “trial practice.” These two years would emphasize learning by doing–experience over doctrine. The great need for legal aid could, in some small part, be addressed by such additional training.
I am not insensitive to the enormous financial burdens that law students undertake. Additionally, I am sensitive to the mounting pressure on law schools to address the financial concerns of their students while also trying to find the money to maintain credible graduate educational programs.
The foregoing said, I am far more concerned with the quality of the lawyers we turn out. For Christ’s sake, kids right out of school are out there now charging real people real money. The great shame of the profession and the legal academy is that we have always allowed young law school graduates to go out and practice law with virtually no experience.
The competence of young lawyers fresh out of school is middling at best, and, frequently, abysmal. It will be far worse if the training is reduced. Truly proficient lawyers should be our goal. If that is the goal, more rather than less time should be required.