As law students and alumni know, 3L year (the third and final year of law school) is considered by many to be useless—a waste of time and money. Because most law students complete their required coursework at some point during their second year, the third year is usually filled with electives or clinical work. And while these courses are no doubt intellectually stimulating, they are also expensive—in terms of both time and money.
In response to these concerns, New York University School of Law has just announced an overhaul of its third-year curriculum. NYU’s new 3L program will allow students to add an international focus to their studies by spending a semester abroad. Alternatively, students could spend their final year concentrating in patent law or interning at a government agency.
These opportunities are already available at several other schools throughout the country, but NYU aims to make 3L students’ pursuit of them the rule rather than the exception.
And while it’s not clear that the NYU program solves the problem of tacking on an extra year of time and tuition to a program that most agree should take two years to complete, it is important to note that one (very important) stakeholder does not agree with the two-year model: the American Bar Association requires three years of full time study (or its equivalent in credit units) to obtain a law degree.
Given that the third-year requirement doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon, what would you recommend be added to the 3L curriculum? How about a course on conducting a job search, required loan repayment counseling, or a supervised internship at a law firm? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section.
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