How To Decide If A 2-Year Law Degree Program Is A Good Choice » helpful wiki

Concerns about the time it takes to earn a law degree and the associated costs have led more law schools to offer accelerated Juris Doctor programs over the past 10 years.

There are more than a dozen two-year JD programs nationwide, allowing law students to take required courses in two years rather than three years. The American Bar Association, which accredits and approves law schools and programs, requires at least 24 months of study to receive a JD degree.

According to some experts, most students who choose an accelerated two-year program are students who have been out of college for a while, are changing careers, or have jobs and families and want to graduate as quickly as possible. possible. They help fuel the popularity of these programs.

Two-year JD programs are also popular among foreign attorneys who wish to practice law in the United States. Earning a JD from an ABA-accredited law school—a law degree from abroad is insufficient—qualifies them to take the bar exam in the United States, and a two-year JD program allows them to doing so a year earlier, notes Jason R. Bent, law professor and associate dean for academic affairs at Stetson University College of Law in Florida.

“Some jurisdictions allow foreign-trained attorneys to call the bar with only a US LL.M. (under certain conditions), but a USJD would certainly lead to more options for a foreign-trained attorney,” said wrote Bent in an email.

The two-year JD program at Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law has been “very successful, both in terms of steady student flow and professional outcomes,” says Daniel Filler, dean of the faculty of law and one of the founding professors in 2006.

The accelerated program began in 2014, and in recent years about 25 students have started the program each summer, Filler says. “It’s a small cohort, but it’s an incredibly socially connected community of law students. Our goal is to have no more than 25 students. A small class means they get good attention – no only from teachers, but also from our careers office and our other academic support professionals.

For the program’s class of 2020, the most recent for which data is available, 100% of graduates had full-time employment — where a JD was either required or a benefit — within 10 months of graduation, says Filler. “I can’t promise this every year, but it gives you the impression that this is not an outlier group. They don’t have the worst results. In fact, some years they have the best results.

2-Year JD Programs Have Some Disadvantages

Two-year programs have some drawbacks, note Filler and others.

“You can’t be the editor of the law journal,” Filler says, explaining that students who want the job are rare and usually want to become professors. “Honestly, if you want to become a teacher, you should probably take the three-year program anyway. Ninety-nine percent of our students don’t want to be teachers. They want to move into a more practical area, and for them, a year of overhauling the law is all they need.

There are also fewer opportunities to participate in competitive mock test teams, Filler adds.

“You can make the tryout team, but you can’t make two years, so you probably won’t be as good. You’re less likely to make the national championship team. Sometimes after-school programs, such as trial team, mock court and law review, only allow accelerated students to do only one year.In the three-year program, some students do a second year and have special experience that n is not available for accelerated students. It is a price that comes with this acceleration.

Experts recommend that students in two-year law programs be focused and organized. They should also research the exciting opportunities that specific programs may offer.

At Pepperdine University’s Rick J. Caruso Law School in California, students who want to get an accelerated JD can get a master’s in dispute resolution, or MDR, at the same time, says Ro W. Lee, associate director for professionals. training and internships at the Straus Institute of the Faculty of Law.

Incoming JD students “can apply for the accelerated program before starting their first day of law school,” Lee says. But “most students do their first year and then they decide to add their MDR or certificate program and the accelerated option.”

While a popular benefit of two-year J.D. programs is that they allow students to start their careers faster—and reduce the period of limited earning capacity by one year—the programs generally require students to attend two summers.

At Drexel, the second summer is used for student co-ops.

“They take nine credits and go to work in law firms, corporations, or nonprofits,” Filler says, noting that the work is unpaid. “They work 40 hours a week, there is a faculty member who works with their supervisor and there is a classroom component. We don’t want our students to lose the opportunity to gain work experience. It’s essential for a law school, so we’re building it using co-op.

At some law schools with an accelerated curriculum, the second summer may mean more classroom instruction.

Programs may differ in emphasis

Some law schools offering two-year JD programs have created their own niches, such as the joint degree program at Pepperdine.

Another example is the two-year JD program at Gonzaga University School of Law in Washington. It started in 2014 as a 90-credit-hour program and has gone through changes since, says Patrick J. Charles, associate professor of law and library director at the law school.

“Students who have participated in our program can take a bar exam in any state,” Charles says. “Accelerated students were in a separate cohort for their first two semesters. It was a bit laborious for us because at the time, some teachers were retiring. We had to dedicate a number of our professors to just accelerated students and that was sort of off schedule.

The law school revamped the accelerated program curriculum in 2019-20, focusing more on leadership and business courses, and renamed it the two-year Executive JD program.

“We went to the ABA and got a waiver,” Charles explains. “The program always starts in the summer and goes through all six semesters with 90 credits. We’ve put a lot more structure into the program, including 68 credit hours of required courses (and) 22 credit hours where they can take optional courses in law.

This structure includes a focus on business and commercial law courses, adds Charles.

“We have partnered with our business school in Gonzaga where these students take Accounting for Lawyers, Statistical Analysis for Lawyers and other courses taught by professors from the business school. We have also partnered with the School of Leadership where students take six leadership credit hours.

After the first semester, students stay together in their cohort but are integrated with other three-year law students for some courses, Charles explains. After the third semester, students can choose to decelerate.

“Of the 18 in the first cohort, 13 are still in the accelerated program,” he says. “The other five, for various reasons, have slowed down. They didn’t quit law school, they just slowed it down.

The first cohort of 18 executive JD students began in May 2020 and graduated in May, Charles says, adding that law students on the fast track appreciate the flexibility of being able to slow their pace.

“For the first four years, people applying said they wanted to get out as soon as possible,” he says. as possible, but I also like this focus on leadership and this focus on business law and commercial law.

Nancy I. Romero