Brooklyn Law School is poised to become the first in the New York metropolitan area to offer an accelerated, two-year J.D.
The school’s board of trustees on May 7 approved the so-called "Brooklyn 2-3-4" program effective in 2014. Students on the two-year track essentially will attend classes continually for 24 months without summer and winter breaks. They will shave a year off the traditional three years it takes to earn a J.D.
"This isn’t for everyone," dean Nick Allard said. "It’s going to be intense, and we are going to selective in our admissions. But we believe it will be an attractive option for many different people, including MBAs, CPAs or people who are looking to start a second career."
The two-year program might also appeal to foreign-trained lawyers who aspire to practice in the United States and people eager to re-enter the work force, he added.
The University of Dayton School of Law, Northwestern University School of Law and Southwestern Law School have offered two-year options for a number of years. Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law, Pepperdine University School of Law, Vermont Law School and Washburn University School of Law have or are in the process of launching accelerated programs.
Brooklyn plans to maintain a separate admission process for its two-year program, which will involve an interview and will give priority to applicants with work experience.
Like other accelerated J.D.s, Brooklyn’s program will cost the same as the three-year J.D. (the school is switching to a per-credit tuition to ensure that students pay the same amount whether they graduate in two, three or four years). Allard said that the ability to eliminate a year of living expenses and enter the workforce earlier would appeal to some prospects. "We’ll be looking for people with maturity and some extra life experience," he said.
The school hopes to enroll at least 10 and as many as 50 students during the first year.
Students will begin classes during the summer, before most 1Ls show up, and will take a normal course load during the fall and spring semesters. They will spend their second summer taking classes and completing externships. The program is designed to enable accelerated students to take clinics and other practical skills courses, but it would be difficult for them to participate in extracurricular activities such as moot court or journals, Allard said. Students will have the option to slow down and extend their time in law school if they want to more deeply immerse themselves in law school life, he said.
Similarly, traditional three-year J.D. students will gain more flexibility to take classes during the summer and intersessions. Or they can extend their course of study to four years without paying any additional tuition. The school aims to boost the integration of full-time and part-time students by having all students take at least a few evening classes.
Administrators hope that the ability to finish a law degree in two years will create a pool of prospective applicants who would not consider taking three years off to attend law school. As with most other law schools, Brooklyn’s applicant pool has declined during the past two years. "We really listened to what students said, and we believe the business as usual is not an option," Allard said.
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