Law School Study Abroad

NYU is planning some major changes to its 3L curriculum. Here's the nutshell from the NYT DealBook:

N.Y.U. Law’s changes are built around several themes, including a focus on foreign study and specialized concentrations. Some students could spend their final semester studying in Shanghai or Buenos Aires. Others might work at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, or the Federal Trade Commission. Another group, perhaps, will complete a rigorous one-year concentration in patent law, or focused course work in tax....

There has been much debate in the legal academy over the necessity of a third year. Many students take advantage of clinical course work, but the traditional third year of study is largely filled by elective courses. While classes like “Nietzsche and the Law” and “Voting, Game Theory and the Law” might be intellectually broadening, law schools and their students are beginning to question whether, at $51,150 a year, a hodgepodge of electives provides sufficient value.

My take:

1. If law schools are going to make you do a third year rather than getting rid of 3L entirely (the schools want that third year of loan dollars, make no mistake), using it to acquire practical skills is brilliant, and something legal employers have been begging for. Big thumbs up.

2. International Law? Or rather, "International Law"? I remain skeptical. I'm guessing that part of that plan has much less to do with what legal employers want, and everything to do with law school marketing, because law school applicants LOVE that particular flavor of Kool-Aid. If you study abroad in law school, you'll also (in most cases) be spending $50K a year on classes many — most? — legal employers just don't care that much about, and that you might even have to explain away. If you want to stay at your home law school and study Nietzsche & the Law instead, those alternatives are about equally (un)useful. Spend that time on practical skills instead.

More on that subject here and here.

What do you think?

Former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and and a former lawyer, Anna Ivey founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process. You can read more admissions tips in The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions, and join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.