President’s Coming Out for Two Year Law School Underlines Need for New Access Head at DOJ

It is great to see the President coming out in favor of cutting law school to two years.

On Friday, he questioned the utility of a third year of classes and suggested that students use their final two semesters to gain work experience. “In the first two years, young people are learning in the classroom,” Mr. Obama said. “The third year, they’d be better off clerking or practicing in a firm even if they weren’t getting paid that much, but that step alone would reduce the costs for the student.

Obviously implicit in this approach could be the creation of all kinds of models in which the third year could include service in areas of need.  Possibilities, perhaps all controversial, might include forgiveness of loans to those who volunteer in access organizations for a full year, incubator programs in which those who have completed two years learn how to transition to middle income sustainable practice, court internships in which recent graduates provide informational or even advocacy help to the self-represented, making students pay an “access fee” if they did not spend the post graduate third year on access (surely cheaper than full tuition).

But the real point is that the exploration and advocacy that such ideas need if the initial leverage offered by the Presidents remarks is to be taken advantage of, need an in place head of the Access Initiative at DOJ.  This administration has done so much for access, and filling the position would leverage it even more.

Who knows, maybe there will be other similarly innovative ideas from the President.  As he said in getting into the topic:  “This is probably controversial to say, but what the heck. I am in my second term, so I can say it[.]”  Please Mr. President, go for it.


About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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