Consider Specialized Programs When Choosing A Law School
One of the positives coming from declining law school enrollment and applications is some schools are getting more creative in how they make themselves more attractive to potential applicants. Some are honing in on a small set of offerings that differentiate themselves from other law schools. This week, the U.S. News highlighted a few of those programs.
The first example given is schools that put an emphasis on third year experiential learning experiences. There are a few programs popping up that have their third year students spend almost all of their time on experiential learning. The example U.S. News gives is current third year at Washington and Lee University’s Law School, Krystal Swendsboe. Last fall, she worked 25 to 30 hours a week as an extern for a federal judge. Some other lesser-known schools emphasizing third-year experiential learning are Whittier Law School, Denver’s Sturm College of Law and Syracuse University College of Law.
Some programs are also integrating shorter and more skill-oriented programs. At Gonzaga, for example, the curriculum packs 90 credit hours (the same as the three-year track) into two years. In addition to normal first-year courses, students take skills labs where they draft complaints and contracts and conduct client interviews. Students are also required to take at least 12 credit hours of experiential learning, which can be fulfilled through externships. Some other schools with two-year J.D. programs are Arizona’s College of Law, Pepperdine University School of Law and Northwestern University School of Law.
Finally, the U.S. News highlights programs that emphasize a global approach to studying and practicing law. Cornell University School of Law is an example. Cornell has a joint J.D. and LLM program that awards a master’s in international and comparative law for an additional 20 credit hours. Most programs with an international emphasis require an additional five credit hours. Many schools offer some sort of international emphasis and you can find a list of some of the better programs here.
With the ever-changing legal education and professional climate, applicants cannot take anything for granted or lightly. One should do whatever possible to tip the playing field in their advantage.
Source: U.S. News
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