In this article, President Obama calls for cutting a year of law school. I have to agree for two large reasons: cost savings and experience.
Most of the students in law school graduated with at least some student loan debt. Some students graduated with quite a bit. Many students I saw in my office had over $100,000 in students loans. All of the graduate level student loans are unsubsidized, meaning interest accumulates from the point of disbursement, even if the student is in school and unable to pay.
If students graduate and take an entry level legal job, most are not, especially in this economy, making over $50,000 annually. The final year of law school is mostly in externships and internships, which are unpaid and the students have to pay tuition for these externships and internships. If only we could make it so students graduate after 2 years of classroom instruction, and use the traditionally reserved third year for externships, internships and Bar exam preparation. This way, if these experiences are still unpaid (which should be changing soon with all unpaid externships and internships under debate), the students are not paying outrageously to gain experience.
Sure, there is the student loan repayment plan for students working with non-profits to have their loans forgiven after 10 years of service, but many individuals now change employers as opportunity strikes. I personally would hate to miss an amazing employment opportunity because I need to stay with a certain type of non-profit to get my loans forgiven. Employment to this generation is not just about salary, but impact one can have on the whole of society.
How impactful could these students be without the added stress of an additional year of student loans? Would the Bar exam preparation be less a trial of determination and more a trial of knowledge? How many more students could actually follow their intended career path of non-profit legal work with potentially $60,000 less on their student loan bill?