Two-year Law Degree

08.24.2005 | Education, Law, StudentsJulius Carter enrolled at the University of Dayton's School of Law this fall because "it offered a way for me to become a lawyer quicker."

The 42-year-old former computer analyst is part of the first class at the School of Law with the option to graduate in five semesters, instead of the traditional six. The University of Dayton is the first in the country to take advantage of new American Bar Association rules that allow students who start classes in the summer to finish their law degrees in two years.

The accelerated curriculum has attracted national media attention and helped to trigger the highest application volume in a dozen years and the best entering test scores since 1994. The School of Law received 2,116 applications - a 13.7 percent surge over last year. Nationally, law school applications are down 1.4 percent, according to the Law School Admission Council.

"The five-semester option was a big draw," said Carter, father of four from Trotwood, Ohio.

Lisa Kloppenberg, dean of the School of Law, says the revamped curriculum is targeted to mid-level professionals like Carter and "the millennial generation that likes to multi-task and move quickly. These highly motivated students want to graduate earlier and begin earning faster. They can save a year of living expenses while completing the same law school curriculum requirements.

"We think other law schools will soon follow suit and give students the opportunity to eliminate the third year of law school," said Kloppenberg, who's been interviewed by the Associated Press, CNN Radio, National Public Radio, Bloomberg, Fox News and the nation's legal press, among other media outlets.

Carter joins one of the most diverse classes in University of Dayton School of Law history, according to Janet Hein, assistant dean and director of admissions and financial aid. Nearly one in five students (19.3 percent) are minority. The University of Dayton offers an Academic Excellence Program, which includes a summer "boot camp" and additional academic assistance to minority and non-traditional law students.

The 119 aspiring lawyers in the entering class hail from 21 states, with slightly more than half (55 percent) from Ohio. Women make up 44 percent of the class. Their undergraduate degrees range from electrical engineering and political science to classical civilization. About a third of the students (30 percent) expressed an interest in the school's law and technology program, with 11 percent holding undergraduate degrees in the sciences or engineering. The internationally known law and technology program prepares lawyers for practice in intellectual property, media and cyberspace law.

As part of its new curriculum, the school offers three curricular tracks: advocacy and dispute resolution; personal and transactional law; and intellectual property law, cyberlaw and creativity. All law students complete a mandatory externship and pass a skills-competency test before graduating. The school hires professional actors to play the roles of clients in a test similar to one taken by medical students to test their knowledge and bedside manner.

The University of Dayton's School of Law, which closed during the Great Depression and reopened in 1974, enrolls approximately 470 students. Its legal profession program is ranked in the top 20 legal writing programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, and its growing reputation has made it a popular choice for aspiring lawyers. In the past five years, applications have increased more than 60 percent, according to School of Law officials.

Contact Lisa Kloppenberg at (937) 229-3795 or Janet Hein at (937) 229-3555. For assistance in scheduling an interview with Julius Carter or other incoming students, contact Teri Rizvi at (937) 229-3241.