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The living may not be easy this summer for Omar Tarazi, but he says graduating ahead of time is worth the extra sweat. As one of 40 students participating in a new two-year program at the University of Dayton School of Law, Tarazi will finish course work for a juris doctor degree in 24 months, which puts him in the work force that much sooner, he said. Tarazi and the other students participating in Dayton’s program will have little time to languish poolside this summer while taking torts, criminal law, civil procedure, property and a legal profession class. But the chance to shave a year off student expenses and get on with life after law school may be one reason that the school’s applications are up 13 percent, despite a 4.8 percent decline in law school applications nationwide, according to the Law School Admission Council. Dayton law school’s dean, Lisa Kloppenberg, said “it’s hard to know” whether the increase in applications is due to the new program, but she added, “I think it must be part of that.” The school is believed to be the first to offer a five-semester, 24-month accelerated schedule. Other schools also provide their own versions of accelerated programs, including University of Kansas School of Law and Syracuse University College of Law. SAME HOURS, SHORTER TIME Dayton implemented its program after the American Bar Association decided last year to allow students to complete a law degree in 24 months, as opposed to the previous requirement of 36 months. While the number of hours that students must spend in class has not changed, they can complete those hours in a shorter time. The 500-student law school allows participants to take 18 credits per semester. For Tarazi and his classmates, they started earlier this month and will attend classes in the fall and the spring. They then will take a break from school next summer, which will to enable them to work in law offices if they choose, Kloppenberg said. Students who start in the fall also have the chance to switch to the accelerated program later. About 18 percent of the school’s students are participating in the program, she said, noting that some students who started last fall have opted for the accelerated program. Most of the students in the program have previous full-time work experience and are eager to finish law school as quickly as possible, she said. The notion of completing law school in a shorter amount of time has become more attractive amid criticism that a third year of law school is unnecessary. The subject of much blogging by students and practitioners, the diminished relevance of the third year was highlighted in the 2001 Journal of Legal Education article, “The Happy Charade: An Empirical Examination of the Third Year of Law School,” by UCLA School of Law professors Mitu Gulati and Richard Sanders. Based on information supplied by law students, the authors concluded that the “substance of the third year was remote and largely irrelevant” for most. That may be, but Kloppenberg cautioned that the accelerated program at her school requires a certain kind of student. “It’s not for everybody,” she said, adding, however, that it helps avoid “third-year burn-out issues.” Leigh Jones is a reporter with The National Law Journal, a Recorder affiliate based in New York City.

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