Individuals who wish to become an attorney but who are hesitant to spend three years completing the Juris Doctor (JD) degree might consider an accelerated JD program. Read on to learn more about accelerated JD programs, and some options in the state of California.
Accelerated JD vs. Standard JD
An accelerated JD is an option for students who wish to work at a faster pace, in order to finish law school in two or two-and-a-half years (including summers), as opposed to the standard three year course of study. Students must complete the same standard and elective coursework. Often, tuition costs will remain similar between these degrees, as courses are taken during the summer months. Students completing an accelerated program may not have the opportunity to participate in summer internships, but can still gain hands-on opportunities through externships, clinics, and law review participation.
Applications for accelerated JD programs are similar to those for standard JD programs. Students will make their application through the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC)'s Credential Assembly Service. Students must often submit transcripts, LSAT scores, and recommendations. Personal statements or interviews are required by some programs.
Accelerated JD Programs in California
At Pepperdine, in Malibu, students can earn the JD and a certificate in alternative dispute resolution in 24 months. Students begin their program in May, and work through two years of legal studies. Accelerated students can participate in many co-curricular opportunities like advocacy competitions and the four School of Law journals. Accelerated students can also participate in the on-campus interview program in order to seek post-graduation employment.
Southwestern Law School
Southwestern Law School, in Los Angeles, provides an accelerated JD program called SCALE. It was the first 2-year program in the country, beginning in 1975. This program aims to integrate instruction in professional legal skills alongside of traditional law school classes. Students participate in an externship as a component of their coursework, and many also engage in other co-curricular programs such as the negotiations team.
California Western School of Law
The California Western School of Law, in San Diego, provides students the opportunity to complete the JD in two years by earning additional credits as part of the trimester system. The program is very flexible, allowing students to choose to take trimesters off to study abroad, complete an internship, or for personal reasons. Students can learn about professional responsibility through the STEPPS program. This program is taken during the second year.
University of the Pacific
The McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific, in Sacramento, offers an accelerated JD Honors program. Students can graduate in two-and-a-half years, and be prepared for the February bar exam. A free summer externship for credit with a governmental agency or non-profit is a component of the program. Students are also encouraged to complete a summer associate position in the summer between the second year and final semester. Participants have the opportunity to participate in co-curricular programs as well, such as law review and moot court.
University of Southern California
Qualified USC undergraduates may enroll in a 3+3 undergrad/JD program in order to accelerate their degree completion. Students must maintain top academic credentials to qualify. The program allows students to earn a bachelor's degree in three years and a JD in three years, saving one year of overall study. USC undergrads should contact the law school academic advisor to review their qualifications for the program as well as application requirements.
Many universities in the state of California offer ways to accelerate the JD course of study. These programs will allow students to enter the field of law quicker.