Southwestern Law School Curriculum Offers a New Approach to Legal Education

Southwestern Law School Curriculum Offers a New Approach to Legal Education,

Southwestern has implemented a number of upper-division reforms in the last 3-4 years.  Southwestern was one of ten law schools invited by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to participate in a consortium on the future of legal education. The school has been innovative and reformed several areas of their legal education methodology. Some of them include:

  • January Intersession: A 1-week intersession that has a menu of 12-14 skills-based courses.  The courses are small (often 10-20 students) and focused on discrete topics.  Courses  are graded based on skills-performance
  • Capstone Courses: Capstone subjects include: Civil Litigation, Criminal Law, Entertainment Law, Employment/Labor Law and Mass Torts.  The capstone courses are for third-year students and incorporate significant experiential learning and advanced writing instruction.  Class enrollment is limited to ensure students receive individualized attention.
  • Floating Mini-Term: Courses that run for 5-7 weeks to permit flexibility in scheduling and staffing.
  • Reinvigorated SCALE: Southwestern has had a unique 2-year JD program known as SCALE that has existed since the early 1970s.  It has been expanded based on student demand.  The 2-year program offers an intensive, integrated curriculum that places great reliance on hypothetical problems as a teaching method.
  • Expanded Skills Offerings and Summer Session: Classes based on transactional, skills-based, and advanced writing skills have been expanded to meet student demand.
  • Honors Programs Classroom Components: A new reform is in the works as it relates to three advocacy honors programs: moot court, trial advocacy, and negotiation.  There is a three-track program in the first-year Legal Writing, Analysis and Skills course, where students can specialize in their Spring semester of their first year to get greater exposure to skills that students are more likely to encounter early on in their legal careers.
  • Dual Degree Programs: The school has sought to increase the opportunities for students to earn dual degrees. There are relationships with schools such as the Drucker School from Claremont Graduate University so that students are able to earn a J.D. and Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), a J.D. and Master of Arts in Management (M.A.M.), or a J.D. and Executive Master of Business Administration (E.M.B.A.)
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