Accelerated law degree

June 26, 2008
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Northwestern University School of Law just announced it’s creating a two-year law program in addition to offering the traditional three-year term. The school – which is only the third in the country to offer an accelerated law degree – believes the quicker turnaround in getting a J.D. will help attract more students by appealing to those who want to get a head start on their future career and enormous law school debt. (The school hasn’t decided whether the tuition for the accelerated program will be the same as the traditional three-year program.)

Critics of the two-year track argue that cramming law school into a shorter timeframe will hurt students’ ability to learn how to think critically and explore job opportunities during the summer. One critic even went so far to call it “irresponsible” and said it risked creating inferior lawyers.

Inferior lawyers? I think that’s a stretch. I’ve seen my share of disciplinary actions involving attorneys who got their degrees in three years that may have done some things that could label them as “inferior.”

Accelerated degrees have been around for years – those with a college degree can take courses to become a teacher in two years or less at Indiana University Purdue University – Indianapolis instead of having to go back to school for four more years. Numerous nursing programs offer accelerated degrees to those who already meet prerequisites and there hasn’t been a huge uproar in the medical community or by the general public regarding a nurse who got his or her degree in 18 months as opposed to four years.

Chances are those law students who choose to go the accelerated route know that they will have to spend more time studying and attending class throughout the year than they would if they were going the more traditional route. While having an extra year to prepare for your future profession is ideal, it’s not always necessary and many people are capable of becoming excellent attorneys in just two years.

Click here for Northwestern University’s press release about the change.
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  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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