The third year of law school. Some call it boring. Some call it pointless (pdf). Some say it should be abolished. Some say it should be reformed. Some want to make it the second to last year of law school.
The Avid Penguin says its just a scam to make money for law schools, and they are probably right.
No matter what their specific take on the situation, most people agree that law students are not getting much out of their 3L years. A few schools, like Dayton and Northwestern, have abolished the 3L year altogether.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but after reading the Avid Penguin item, and seeing the idea hinted at and mentioned, I am beginning to wonder if all of this discussion about reforming the 3L year is really just money-hungry law schools and academics trying to hide the ball.
The critics are right: the 3L year adds very little to our legal education. Students would rather not pay the $30,000 or more in tuition. Most employers already recognize that law school doesn’t prepare students very well for practice. Only law schools have any real interest in maintaining a three year legal education.
All of this theorizing leads me to one conclusion:
The debate on how the third year of law school should be organized and what should be taught is really a grand distraction. A diversion and a decoy, designed to hide from us the obvious fact that the third year of law school, no matter how well-conceived, is essentially a colossal windfall for law schools, and a waste of money for law students.
The real trick here is that, while two year programs sound like a solution, they aren’t actually any cheaper since these schools still “charge by the degree rather than the time served.” I guess no matter how you go about it the law schools are going to get theirs. At least in a two year program you can start paying off the massive debt you’ve incurred a year earlier...