There's been lots of blawgospheric discussion of revolutionary (and not so revolutionary) revisions to law school curricula and structure. Why the itch for change? The cost of law school skews entrance toward those who possess social and financial capital, which in turn leads to a less diverse profession. First year instruction still contains lots of academic hazing and the basic mode of instruction hasn't changed all that much since the late 1800s. 2L and 3L years are full of disinterested students (who are increasingly surfing the web during class). The ever-climbing median law school debt continues to steer students to jobs they don't want. Due in part to the dominance of USN&WR rankings, there has been a significant increase in prestige-chasing in almost all aspects of law school, from entrance requirements to summer associate hiring to clerkship offers to tenure-track hiring to full-time associate hiring. There are plenty of signs that the public and the clients of the world aren't particularly pleased with the system -- and they're the ones we're supposed to serve.
Would opening up a second path to the profession make things better or worse? I'm not suggesting that we do away with the current graduate-school model. But would the sky fall if students could take an undergraduate law degree at low cost from their state schools, pass the bar exam, and then, say, have to work two years as "probationary" lawyer under the supervision of a lawyer? They might take their undergraduate degree and head straight into government or business, much as they now study accounting, business or finance and head into first jobs. They might work in law for a few years, see if they like it, and then head to graduate "L-school" for one or two years to focus on a specific area of law they're interested in.
Nothing in the "two path" plan would prohibit students from studying law in graduate school like students do today. Those students with sufficient money and time could, say, study philosophy or political science in undergrad and then get their JD the way everyone does now. I'm sure that the market would continue to support some percentage of the existing law schools -- although obviously some of the current programs wouldn't survive in that kind of market and would have to refashion themselves as undergraduate programs similar to business and accounting.
Would a "two path" plan result in less debt, more access from lower socio-economic classes to the profession, lower barriers to entry, less expensive legal services (and therefore more lawyering for the lower classes), fewer jobs taken "only to pay down debt," and, perhaps, a happier, healthier profession? Who would be the "winners" and who the "losers" under a two path plan?