As the market for law schools finds greater challenge, Bloomberg reports that the average scores of new law grads on the multiple choice part of the bar exam have steadily dropped. And the July 2015 scores, unfortunately, hit a 25-year low. Some say this is due to the exam getting harder, but the cost of law school also has skyrocketed during the last few decades, far exceeding the growth in average consumer prices. This leaves many new grads deep in debt, and with a more difficult job market since the meltdown of 2008. This has led to a drop in law school applications.
A Two Year Law Degree?
For sure things are much better for newly minted lawyers than a few years ago. But the near certainty of a decent job coming out of a decent school that was true 20-25 years ago simply is no longer the case. Since the job market is what it is, and law schools cannot easily remedy that, more fundamental changes might make sense. Even President Obama has said that it may be appropriate to eliminate the third year of law school, or replace it with experiential apprentice-like learning.
I’m a strong proponent of this option. The third year of law school does not typically add essential elements to a student’s learning as opposed to a year of real hands on experience and training. And new lawyers generally graduate with no actual skills, whereas medical students spend two years in the classroom and two years in the clinic before graduating. How about teaching law firms and government agencies much like teaching hospitals? Just my two cents...
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