Southwestern Sets the Trends and Innovations That Other Law Schools Follow
Just this week, yet another law school - Brooklyn Law School in New York - announced that it would be following Southwestern's lead by launching its own two-year JD program. Brooklyn's news comes on the heels of similar announcements by Pepperdine, Drexel, Florida Coastal, Vermont and Washburn University law schools that they are in the process of developing accelerated programs. In recent years, Dayton and Northwestern established their own two-year programs. While condensing the length of time it takes to complete the JD, these programs do not capture Southwestern's unique and highly respected cohort-based model of small classes and skills-based approach that is the hallmark of the SCALE program.
According to Professor Harriet M. Rolnick, Director of the SCALE program, "With an excellent track record of nearly 40 years and more than 1,000 graduates, SCALE offers a select cohort of 30 to 40 students an accelerated skill-centered required yet flexible curriculum. SCALE students are able to create a mini-focus area by taking up to two externships, enrolling in summer electives, working or attending a summer abroad program. SCALE encourages the best of both worlds... cohesion, collaboration and closeness with access to all honors programs, clubs and other programs that Southwestern offers."
Since 1974, Southwestern has offered SCALE, the longest-running two-year program in the country - and was the first to offer four different paths to the JD that differ in timeframe and instructional approach. In announcing a 2-3-4 option, Brooklyn follows what Southwestern has offered for decades. Southwestern still remains one of the very few schools with a part-time program geared toward students with child and elder-care responsibilities. Other aspects of Southwestern's curricular innovations are being emulated elsewhere, such as the January Intersession recently adopted by Loyola.
A member of the Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers Consortium, Southwestern was recognized this year for being one of the top 20 most innovative law schools in the country, and was previously recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for being at the vanguard of legal education reform. This year, two of Southwestern's faculty, leaders in curricular reform and the legal profession, were named among the top ten most influential individuals in legal education."These developments are another illustration of how Southwestern has been well ahead of its time since it began more than 100 years ago when it was one of the first law schools in the country to welcome and accommodate the needs of a diverse student population," said Dean Austen Parrish. "And we will continue to be that nimble institution that can identify and implement important innovations in legal education that others will follow."