Posted on November 6, 2013 by dmaranville
Not everyone agrees that we should reduce law school to two years. Tax Professor Edward Zelinsky (Cardozo) makes a pitch for a four year law school on the grounds that:
“First, there is today much more law to learn than there was in the past. . . .
Second, through expanded LLM programs, we are de facto creeping towards four years of legal education. . . .
Third, many of the same critics who favor a two year law school curriculum also support expanded clinical education for law students. Such expanded clinical education should not come at the expense of substantive legal education but in addition to it.”
Point 1: Can’t disagree. And, it raises the complicated question of how much substantive law can and should be taught and, more importantly, learned, in law school. How much of the law we teach will be retained by students?
Point 3 (yes, I realize this is out of order): Does a useful degree of information retention require opportunities to put the information into practice? If so, that reinforces the need for experiential education broadly and clinical education more specifically.
Point 2: Imagine this is true for tax lawyers. How true for others? I don’t know, but guessing the fabulous UW Law reference librarians will have an answer shortly!
Update: As predicted, a quick response with data that suggest “creeping” is the correct verb for movement toward the LL.M. as a 4th year of law school:
Total JD/LLB degrees conferred: 44,495
Total LLM degrees conferred 2011: 5,967
Total JD/LLB degrees conferred 1997: 40,114
Total LLM degrees conferred 1999: 2,764
Sources: ABA-LSAC Official Guide, 2013 edition, p. 864 & ABA Official Guide to Approved Law Schools, 1999 edition
Note that the LL.M. degrees figure presumably includes some number of foreign LL.M.’s who are not planning to practice i the U.S.
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