NYU has become the latest law school to announce a revamping of the third year. Three quick observations:
(1) Doing an externship in Buenos Aires sounds fun, while spending a semester working for a DC agency sounds useful, but why exactly are NYU students supposed to pay $51,000 to NYU for the privilege of having the school outsource its educational function to various exotic outposts? When I spoke at Stanford last spring several 3Ls expressed their aggravation trending toward outrage that they were being charged a massive sum to spend another nine months in technical residence, when in fact they were so busy with outside projects of various kinds -- some for academic credit, some not -- that their classroom experience was largely symbolic, if not wholly fictional. (Note to the ABA: the more elite the school, the more your absurd rules requiring classroom attendance are flagrantly ignored).
(2) Lots of law schools are obsessing on pedagogical reform at the moment because tweaking the curriculum is easy. What's hard is creating an economic model of legal education that makes sense, given ongoing structural changes in the employment market for law school graduates. Improving skills training and making law graduates more practice ready, assuming for the purposes of argument that law schools as currently constituted could even do this in a significant way, do nothing to create more jobs for lawyers. The focus on curricular reform is essentially an avoidance mechanism for dodging the hard issues.
(3) Even a school as resource-rich as NYU will continue to sail into increasingly stormier seas if the BigLaw world keeps contracting. In this regard see this Bloomberg Law interview with Bruce MacEwen, summarized here.
Update: Related thoughts from Scott Greenfield.