Two-Year Accelerated J.D. - SCALE

Southwestern offers the longest-running two-year accelerated J.D. program in the country. Known as SCALE, the program features an accelerated law school curriculum that challenges students to master analytical reasoning and legal writing skills while remaining sensitive to ethical obligations and client needs.

Trailblazing since 1975, the SCALE Program focuses on integrating substantive knowledge and professional skills instruction - a model that is just now being incorporated into curricular reforms at many other law schools in response to the call for more practical skills training in legal education. By introducing additional innovations in recent years, SCALE has also kept pace with the growing demand of law students for both structure and flexibility in a two-year immersion program. Because of the unique curriculum and accelerated pace of the program, the SCALE admissions process includes a personal interview with each applicant.

SCALE is a registered trademark owned by Southwestern Law School

Small Class Sizes

SCALE cohorts and class sizes are smaller and more interactive than traditional sections.  Your cohort becomes your family.  Many SCALE graduates feel they have an advantage over job-seekers from three- and four-year programs. 

Image - SCALE Cohort

Flexible Curriculum

SCALE offers a flexible second-year curriculum created through a choice of summer session electives, second-year elective choices, particular externship placements, and honors programs participation. 

Image - SCALE Evidence Class

Guaranteed Externships

Experiential learning lives at the heart of the SCALE curriculum, and every SCALE student receives a guaranteed full-time externship. Recent placements include Warner Music, MGM, CBS, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the United States District Court, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, SAG-AFTRA, and the Constitutional Rights Foundation. 

Image - SCALE Externships

When does the first year of SCALE start for the 2020-2021 academic year?

The first year of SCALE (SCALE I) begins June 15, 2020.

When do applications open?

Applications to Southwestern typically open up in September. For more information, please contact the Admissions office.

Are scholarships available for SCALE?

Yes. It is strongly recommended that students submit their application for admission as soon as possible if they wish to be considered for a scholarship.

If SCALE is my second/third choice and I receive a scholarship award for my first-choice program, does the scholarship transfer over if I ultimately decide to make SCALE my first choice?

Yes, the scholarship does transfer to the SCALE program in the event that you switch to SCALE as your first choice.

Does the school provide on-campus housing?

Yes, Southwestern provides on-campus housing at the Residences at 7th. Students who are enrolled in a J.D. or LL.M. program at Southwestern are eligible to live in the residences. You may contact Student Housing at or 213-738-5500 for more information.

Is there an interview process for SCALE?

Yes, applicants must be interviewed before any decisions are made on their SCALE applications. An applicant invited for an interview will typically meet with Dean Rolnick or a SCALE professor. Accommodations (geographical distance, work schedule, etc.) can be made and in some instances, interviews may be conducted over the phone.
Interviews are typically held from November to April.

What can I expect during the interview?

During the interview, your interviewer will discuss the SCALE program with you in-depth (curriculum, schedule, differences between other programs at Southwestern, etc.) and likewise will be an opportunity for you to address any questions you may have. This will also be an opportunity to get to know you better on a personal level and gauge if SCALE is a good fit for you and vice versa. Interviews typically last 45 minutes-one hour.

How can I prepare for my SCALE interview?

Review the SCALE website and supplementary materials provided by the SCALE office, consider any questions you may have about the SCALE program or Southwestern in general, and review your application if at all possible. A positive, engaging attitude is always helpful.

Do I need to bring anything?

No, unless you have supplementary or new information you wish to provide.

What should I wear?

Business or business-casual attire is preferred.

What is the typical SCALE class size?

A typical SCALE class consists of 45 to 50 students.

How many hours of class are there in a day?

Students can expect 4 to 4.5 class hours on a daily basis. Classes typically begin at 9 or 10 a.m. and end around 3 to 4 p.m.

May a SCALE student take traditional electives?

Yes, there is flexibility during the SCALE Summer Session to take traditional electives and during the second year of SCALE, students have the option to take up to four traditional electives. SCALE students are also able to pursue and satisfy the needed requirements for one of the five concentrations offered at Southwestern, though opting for a concentration is not mandatory.

Does SCALE require the same number of units as the traditional program?

SCALE requires 87 units for graduation, the same number as the traditional program.

Does SCALE go by a semester system?

While not officially the quarter system, the SCALE curriculum is broken down into eight total periods, with Periods 1-4 making up Year 1 (or SCALE I) and Periods 5-8 making up Year 2 (SCALE II).

What is the duration of each period?

Each period lasts approximately 10-12 weeks.

Image - SCALE Class of 2019