Harvard University undergraduates who aspire to be attorneys will have a head start on admission to that law school across the way at starting in 2015.

Harvard Law School has announced a pilot program under which Harvard undergraduates may apply and gain acceptance during their junior year, provided they agree to work for two years in between graduation and beginning their legal studies. If the pilot program succeeds, the law school might expand eligibility to juniors at other universities, assistant dean and chief admissions officer Jessica Soban said.

The program is intended to allow students to square away their graduate school plans early so they can focus on finding the right job and gain several years of real-world work experience, she said. “Harvard has an emphasis on leadership. We know that in a professional setting, the networks you develop in the workforce and that experience influences your work in graduate school and throughout the rest of your career.”

Most of Harvard’s law students now arrive on campus with at least one year of work experience, and that leads to richer classroom discussions, Soban added.

Harvard officials believe they are the first to adopt such a program at a law school, although the Harvard Business School already has a similar arrangement, dubbed the 2+2 Program, The Harvard Crimson reported.

The pilot program has the added benefit of allowing students to complete the application process while still in an academic setting, rather than studying for the Law School Admission Test and filling out admissions paperwork while holding down a job. Moreover, students could focus entirely on academics and their job search during their senior year, Soban said.

Students accepted under the program will be allowed to defer starting law school should they want to spend more than two years in the workforce, she added.

Applicants would be required to participate in an on-campus interview. (The school already conducts interviews with applicants, although most are done over Skype.) Additionally, the application timeline will be slightly delayed because the school will consider final junior year grades. Applicants will know if they are accepted before their senior year begins, however.

Administrators had no estimate of the number of Harvard juniors who might apply during the program’s first year. Next year’s crop of Harvard juniors will be the first eligible to apply, and would enter law school in 2017.

Contact Karen Sloan at ksloan@alm.com. For more of The National Law Journal’s law school coverage, visit: http://www.facebook.com/NLJLawSchools.

Harvard University undergraduates who aspire to be attorneys will have a head start on admission to that law school across the way at starting in 2015.

Harvard Law School has announced a pilot program under which Harvard undergraduates may apply and gain acceptance during their junior year, provided they agree to work for two years in between graduation and beginning their legal studies. If the pilot program succeeds, the law school might expand eligibility to juniors at other universities, assistant dean and chief admissions officer Jessica Soban said.

The program is intended to allow students to square away their graduate school plans early so they can focus on finding the right job and gain several years of real-world work experience, she said. “Harvard has an emphasis on leadership. We know that in a professional setting, the networks you develop in the workforce and that experience influences your work in graduate school and throughout the rest of your career.”

Most of Harvard’s law students now arrive on campus with at least one year of work experience, and that leads to richer classroom discussions, Soban added.

Harvard officials believe they are the first to adopt such a program at a law school, although the Harvard Business School already has a similar arrangement, dubbed the 2+2 Program, The Harvard Crimson reported.

The pilot program has the added benefit of allowing students to complete the application process while still in an academic setting, rather than studying for the Law School Admission Test and filling out admissions paperwork while holding down a job. Moreover, students could focus entirely on academics and their job search during their senior year, Soban said.

Students accepted under the program will be allowed to defer starting law school should they want to spend more than two years in the workforce, she added.

Applicants would be required to participate in an on-campus interview. (The school already conducts interviews with applicants, although most are done over Skype.) Additionally, the application timeline will be slightly delayed because the school will consider final junior year grades. Applicants will know if they are accepted before their senior year begins, however.

Administrators had no estimate of the number of Harvard juniors who might apply during the program’s first year. Next year’s crop of Harvard juniors will be the first eligible to apply, and would enter law school in 2017.

Contact Karen Sloan at ksloan@alm.com. For more of The National Law Journal’s law school coverage, visit: http://www.facebook.com/NLJLawSchools.