The bottom line for me is that in most cases, I don't think it's a good idea. Some law schools sell the program on the basis of the opportunity cost avoidance. However, I think that sacrificing that extra year in many cases will result in a less enriching experience. I returned to law school after an almost twenty year educational hiatus, so I will acknowledge that my experience and perspective may be different than those of a typical law student. At the same time, I enjoyed the experience and even at my ripe old age grew hugely, in terms of my analytical and logical skills. Further, there were so many subjects that interested me. I actually graduated with a significant number of hours more than I needed, just because I wanted to learn more about the subject.
There is something about the luxury of the academic environment that causes us to grow and flourish. Cutting the law school experience short means less time to soak in this environment, perhaps less opportunity to spend with colleagues, and maybe even fewer clerkship opportunities. In law school, a big part of what we learn is how to think in a very different way. It's that ability that differentiates us from MBAs and other post-graduates. It's learning by osmosis, almost a teaching oneself kind of experience. Navigating it is half of the educational experience. I simply find it hard to understand why anyone would want to reduce that experience.
I know my argument isn't exactly sound from a logical perspective. After all, students in two year programs complete essentially the same number of classroom hours. But for me, the classroom hours were the mere iceberg tip of my legal education. It was the hours I spent wrestling with cases; the debates with my colleagues and the conferences with my professors that truly conributed the most to my legal education.
For some, a two year program may be a great idea. But for me, if I had it to do all over again, I would do it exactly the way that I did it- in three years. If money is an issue for you, then consider going to a lower cost law school. I've previously blogged about this subject. You should not overpay for your legal education. In many cases, "Local U" at tuition cost of thousands of dollars less than "Ivy League U" may be a great alternative. If you have a good idea of what you want to do with your law degree and "Local U" will get you there, then you may be able to save a bundle with this decision. I see that as a preferred alternative to reducing the time spent in law school.
Whatever decision you make, I wish you much success in your legal education and career.