Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

Southwestern Symposium Explores the Evolution of J.D. Programs January 26, 2009
Southwestern Symposium Explores the Evolution of J.D. Programs

In recent years, law schools have responded to calls for dramatic changes in the way they prepare students for the practice of law, focusing primarily on curricular reform. Comparatively little attention has been paid to the evolution that is also occurring in J.D. programs across the country. Until now.

Drawing on its unique position as the only American Bar Association-approved law school offering four programs of study leading to a J.D. degree that differ in scheduling and instructional approach, Southwestern will present "The Evolution of J.D. Programs: Is Non-Traditional Becoming More Traditional?" This one-day symposium presented by the Southwestern Law Review on Saturday, February 21, 2009 will bring together law school deans and other leading figures in legal academia from around the country to discuss and analyze changes to J.D. programs occurring at American law schools.

"Southwestern, long an innovator in legal education, is proud to host what we believe is the first conference to examine different programs leading to a J.D., especially the emerging two-year programs," Dean Bryant Garth said.

Many law schools are reinvigorating the non-traditional programs they offer. From two-year accelerated programs, to part-time evening programs, to other cutting-edge flexible approaches, non-traditional programs have a long history in legal education. Often, non-traditional programs are filled with students who are more mature, and more ethnically and socio-economically diverse than their traditional law school counterparts. Because of this, they enrich the educational experience at law schools they attend.

For some schools, non-traditional programs have become a way to reach talented students who might otherwise not enter the profession. At the same time, these programs are facing new challenges from both curricular reforms and the effects of rankings. As law schools reinvigorate and reevaluate their non-traditional programs, a number of questions arise, including whether non-traditional programs are becoming more traditional.
"This is an important time for legal education," said Austen Parrish, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at Southwestern. "Law schools throughout the country are experimenting with innovative curricular and programmatic reforms as a way to distinguish themselves. More than ever, schools are reflecting on how best to prepare students as professionals, how the structure of their J.D. programs contributes to the way lawyers are trained, and what affects the curriculum has on other values law schools cultivate."

David E. Van Zandt, Dean and Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law, will present the keynote speech. Southwestern faculty members scheduled to speak include: Dean Bryant Garth; Professor Harriet Rolnick, Director of SCALEĀ® (Southwestern's two-year J.D. program); Professor Karen R. Smith; Professor Carrie Menkel-Meadow (Visiting Scholar at Southwestern and A.B. Chettle, Jr. Professor of Dispute Resolution and Civil Procedure, Georgetown University Law Center); Professor Christine Metteer Lorillard; Professor Catherine Carpenter (current chair of the Accreditation Committee of the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar); and Professor Joyce Sterling (Visiting Professor at Southwestern and Professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law). Other esteemed academics from law schools throughout the country will participate as well, including: Lisa Kloppenberg, Dean and Professor of Law, University of Dayton, School of Law; Mitchell C. Bailin, Dean of Students, Georgetown University Law Center; Katherine S. Broderick, Dean and Professor of Law, University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law; Timothy S. Hall, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law, University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law; Edwin Butterfoss, Professor of Law, Hamline University School of Law; and Barry Currier, Dean and Professor of Law, Concord Law School.

Articles written in coordination with the "The Evolution of J.D. Programs" symposium will be published in the Southwestern Law Review. Copies of the issue will be sent to participants and will also be available for purchase from the Law Review Office. For further information, contact Southwestern's Student Affairs Office.

The symposium will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the historic Bullocks Wilshire Building on Southwestern's campus, 3050 Wilshire Boulevard, in Los Angeles. The cost, including lunch, is $75 for non-Southwestern Alumni seeking 6 hours of CLE credit; $50 for Southwestern Alumni seeking 6 hours of CLE credit; and $40 for those not seeking CLE credit (lunch included). The symposium is co-sponsored by the Pacific Coast Association of Pre-Law Advisors (PCAPLA) and the Western Association of Prelaw Advisors (WAPLA). Additional information and event registration can be found online. For a map and directions, click here.

Media interested in attending event should contact the Public Affairs Office.