Jessica M. Karmasek Sep. 11, 2013, 3:30pm

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) -- A majority of newly minted law graduates agree with President Barack Obama's recent comments that law schools should consider cutting out the third year, according to a survey.

A Kaplan Bar Review survey, conducted last month found that a majority of new graduates agree with the President that law schools need to consider changing the way they currently educate aspiring attorneys.

More than 700 graduates from the class of 2013, who took a bar review course with Kaplan, were surveyed online.

Among the survey's findings, which were released Tuesday:

* Eighty-seven percent of the new law graduates said the U.S. legal education system needs "to undergo significant changes to better prepare future attorneys for the changing employment landscape and legal profession."

* Graduates were asked, specifically, "Do you think the traditional three-year law school education can be condensed into two years without negatively impacting the practice-readiness of new attorneys?" Sixty-three percent answered "yes."

"Because of the current challenging job market for lawyers and subsequent decline in law school applications, this is an unprecedented time of introspection within the legal education community," Steve Marietti, general manager of the Kaplan Bar Review, said in a statement Tuesday.

"While some law schools are already implementing curriculum changes to adapt to the changing landscape, the likelihood of any widespread changes across legal education is years away. In reality, the length of a law school education is less relevant than whether it's effective in helping students succeed."

Last month, during a town hall speech in New York, Obama suggested that the nation's law schools go to two years 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.

"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.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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