(NYTIMES) — President Obama urged law schools on Friday to consider cutting a year of classroom instruction, wading into a hotly debated issue inside the beleaguered legal academy.

“This is probably controversial to say, but what the heck. I am in my second term, so I can say it,” Mr. Obama said at a town hall-style meeting at Binghamton University in New York. “I believe that law schools would probably be wise to think about being two years instead of three years.”

The president’s surprising remarks, made while discussing how to make education more affordable, come at a time of crisis for law schools. With an increasing number of graduates struggling with soaring tuition costs, heavy student debt and a difficult job market, a growing number of professors and administrators are pushing for broad reforms in legal education.

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