September 13, 2013

Bruce Ackerman of Yale University asserted that “the third year [of law school] is not an expensive frill but a crucial resource in training lawyers for 21st-century challenges” [“Obama’s outdated view of law school,” op-ed, Sept. 7]. However, he did not confront (or even discuss) the most fundamental fact on this subject.

As with any asset, the value of the third year of law school — however measured — can only be judged against its cost. And American Bar Association accreditation standards notwithstanding, nothing precludes changing a law school’s program to entertain Mr. Ackerman’s curricular view within a two-year framework.

What the professor left unsaid is that saving students the cost of a third year might come with an altogether different cost: A few of today’s law professors might lose their cushy jobs.

Michael C. Macchiarola, Basking Ridge, N.J.

Bruce Ackerman’s thoughtful Sept. 7 op-edadded an important dimension to the discussion of where good lawyers are made. As a student of the John F. Kennedy School, I was able to take a class in regulatory economics taught by Justice Stephen Breyer, then a district court judge, and Richard Zeckhauser, a professor of economics. It was excellent preparation for corporate and public management. Perhaps pure legal training may be taught in two years, but good professionals should attend multidisciplinary programs of at least three — if not four — years. Joint MBA/law/public policy graduates now lead many private and public institutions.

Jim Pearson, Washington