Jessica M. Karmasek Aug. 26, 2013, 3:20pm

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) -- President Barack Obama, during a town hall speech in New York Friday, suggested that the nation's law schools cut out the third year in an effort to help reduce the cost of college.

"This is probably controversial to say, but what the heck, I'm in my second term so I can say it," the President said, followed by laughter. "I believe, for example, that law schools would probably be wise to think about being two years instead of three years -- because by the third year -- in the first two years young people are learning in the classroom.

"The third year they'd be better off clerking or practicing in a firm, even if they weren't getting paid that much."

That step, alone, would reduce the cost to students, Obama, himself a Harvard Law School graduate, told audience members at Binghamton University.

The President's speech was part of a national bus tour focusing on his new plan to make college more affordable.

"Now, the question is can law schools maintain quality and keep good professors and sustain themselves without that third year," Obama said Friday.

"My suspicion is, is that if they thought creatively about it, they probably could."

Such a proposal likely would need support from the American Bar Association, which accredits most of the nation's law schools.

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