A new Kaplan Bar Review survey* of 712 law school graduates from the class of 2013 finds that a strong majority of newly minted JDs agree with President Barack Obama’s recent comments** that law schools should think about changing the way they currently educate aspiring attorneys. Among the findings:
- Belief that Legal Education Needs to Change: 87% of new law school graduates surveyed say that the U.S. legal education system needs “to undergo significant changes to better prepare future attorneys for the changing employment landscape and legal profession.”
- Support for Less is More: Specifically, when asked, “Do you think the traditional three-year law school education can be condensed into two years without negatively impacting the practice-readiness of new attorneys?”, 63% answered in the affirmative.
- More Clinics: But if a third year is required, 97% say they favor a law school model that incorporates clinical experience, which is designed to make students more practice-ready. During the first two years of law school, students generally take courses on the basics of law, while the third year is spent taking electives.
- High Marks for Law School: Despite law school graduates’ call for changes, the vast majority still give their law school high marks. 37% gave their law school education an “A” grade, while 50% gave it a “B”. Only 11% gave their legal education a “C” grade; 1% scored it a “D”. No respondents gave their law school education an “F”.
“Because of the current challenging job market for lawyers and subsequent decline in law school applications, this is an unprecedented time of introspection within the legal education community. While some law schools are already implementing curriculum changes to adapt to the changing landscape, the likelihood of any widespread changes across legal education is years away,” said Steve Marietti, General Manager, Kaplan Bar Review. “In reality, the length of a law school education is less relevant than whether it’s effective in helping students succeed.”