President Obama isn’t the only one who thinks law school should last for just two years.
In a survey of prospective law students, 58 percent said that they would prefer to spend just two years acquiring a juris doctor degree rather than the traditional three. That brings them in line with the president, who last year remarked during a speech about college costs that law schools could stand to eliminate the final year.
Kaplan Test Prep queried 1,378 would-be law students about program length, among a range of issues.
“Our survey suggests that prelaw students are paying attention to the current state of legal education and the job market for new lawyers, and recognize the need for big changes they think will benefit them,” said Jeff Thomas, executive director for prelaw programs at Kaplan. “This desire for a shake-up puts them on the same page as many in the legal education community, including law school admissions officers and educators.”
In a separate survey last summer, 63 percent of recent law graduates surveyed by Kaplan agreed that law schools should be whittled down to two years. That move would represent significant cost savings for students.
In other responses to the more recent survey, 97 percent of prelaw students said they would like to see law schools do more to incorporate clinics into their curricula. And 58 percent said that their primary motivation for going to law school was to practice law, while 11 percent sought a change from another career.
Another 7 percent said they wanted to improve their earning potential and an identical percentage aspired to political careers.
“It’s also encouraging that prelaw students say the primary reason they are planning to go to law school is to actually practice law,” Thomas said. “While the J.D. is a versatile degree and there are many career paths possible with it, it’s smart to make practicing law your primary focus.”