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Studying Law in Two Years

From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report in Special English. Recently we told you how some medical schools in the United States offer future doctors a way to finish in three years instead of four. Some law schools also offer a way to save a year.

People who want to become lawyers traditionally attend three years of law school. Like medical students, many law students are deeply in debt by the time they finish their juris doctor, or JD, degree. Those who take out loans borrow an average of around $100,000.

Almost all graduates must pass a state bar examination to get a license to practice law. New York University Law School Professor Samuel Erstreicher thinks more students should be allowed to take the bar exam after two years of classes. This was more common in the past.

Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo and President Franklin Roosevelt both took the bar exam after two years. Professor Erstreicher also suggests a more professional, instead of a more academic, program of study. Learning more about professional skills, he says, would better prepare a lawyer to serve the needs of average Americans. Some law schools offer a choice of a two- or three-year program.

In 2009, Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago became the country's first top law school to add an accelerated program. Accelerated students at Northwestern have to learn the same material and pay the same price as three-year students. Some lawyers argue against accelerated programs. They question whether many law firms would want to hire lawyers without that third year of law school.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 21Mar2013)

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