Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

August 27, 2013
Can a two-year J.D. Program work?

Southwestern's two-year SCALE® J.D. Program has a 38-year proven record of success.

President Obama has suggested that "law schools would be wise to think about being two years instead of three years.... [and] if they thought creatively about it, they probably could." Is it possible to obtain all the knowledge and skills necessary to be a successful lawyer in just two years?

SCALE 2-year JD classAccording to graduates of Southwestern Law School's two-year SCALE® J.D. program - that has been in existence since 1974 - the answer is a resounding "Yes!"

Southwestern addressed this issue nearly 40 years ago by thinking outside the box when it added the two-year SCALE program as an option to its three and four-year J.D. programs. Originally established with the aid of a major federal grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education, SCALE has produced more than 1,000 alumni who completed their legal education in two years and have been highly successful in the full spectrum of law and business - from elected office to private practice, from the bench to entertainment.

In recent years, a few other law schools have created two-year programs by simply condensing the traditional curriculum into a shorter time period, with students attending the same classes as the three-year students. Having the longest-running accelerated program, Southwestern has been able to refine the two-year law school curriculum with the unique model of small classes and practical skills-based approach that is the hallmark of the SCALE program.

According to Dean Austen Parrish, "The question is not whether law school can be done in two years - it can be. The question is how to structure a program in a way that maintains quality and provides a first-rate legal education."

"Southwestern recognized the value of creating an innovative law school program where students could work together in a small select cohort of 30 to 40 students, learn the skills essential to effective lawyering, and graduate in two years," says Professor Harriet Rolnick, Director of the SCALE program. "The SCALE curriculum also encourages students to gain legal experience while in school through participation in two externships, honors programs, summer electives, summer abroad programs or work experience."

More information about SCALE and commentary from SCALE graduates is available at