Ditch Year Three? Rethinking Law School and the Practice of Law

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Does innovation have a place in legal education and practice? (Elise Amendola/AP)
Does innovation have a place in legal education? (Elise Amendola/AP)

The argument that law school should be two years instead of three isn't new. But the idea got renewed prominence last month, when President Obama said this on a stop at Binghamton University in New York during his college affordability bus tour: "Law schools would probably be wise to think about being two years instead of three years. In the first two years young people are learning in the classroom. The third year they'd be better off clerking or practicing at a firm even if they weren't getting paid that much. But that step alone would reduce the cost for the student."

This from a man who's a lawyer himself, and probably the most prominent graduate of Harvard Law School. Rethinking the third year of law school is only one idea for how to innovate in the legal profession. Northeastern University, for example, just launched the NuLawLab, a legal innovation laboratory. And Suffolk University has a new Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation. So we detect a theme here.

WBUR's Sacha Pfeiffer talks with legal innovators about what's wrong with the teaching and practice of law, and how 21st century thinking and technology could help fix it.

Radio Boston listeners, if you went to law school, tell us how the legal education system could be transformed. If you thought your third year was unnecessary, tell us why. Let us know how you think law schools could teach students better. And if you're a practicing lawyer, or an ex-practicing lawyer, tell us what you think is wrong with the legal profession and how it can be improved.


Adam Ziegler, attorney, organizer of the Boston Legal Innovation Meetup, and co-founder of Mootus, a website that helps lawyers save, share and re-use legal knowledge

Luke Bierman, law professor at Northeastern University, Associate Dean for Experiential Education and faculty director of the school's new innovation laboratory, called the NuLawLab

Scott Kirsner, Innovation Economy columnist for the Boston Globe

This segment aired on September 4, 2013.

Headshot of Sacha Pfeiffer

Sacha Pfeiffer Host, All Things Considered
Sacha Pfeiffer was formerly the host of WBUR's All Things Considered.



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