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Pepperdine's 2-year JD approach praised in Daily Journal

August 17, 2016 -- From "Pepperdine's 2-year JD program meets modest goals with targeted approach" by Lyle Moran (LA Daily Journal):

Several law schools nationwide started offering two-year law degree programs in recent years to try to combat declining enrollment by attracting students who wanted to enter the working world sooner.

While Pepperdine University School of Law's accelerated offering has only averaged five new enrollees per year in its first four years, school leaders say they are pleased with how the initiative has gone and have no plans to halt it like other institutions have done.


Officials from other law schools that suspended their two-year offerings, including Northwestern University's Pritzker School of Law, said they believed Pepperdine's small, accelerated program could remain viable with its current approach.

They praised Pepperdine for making participation in its dispute resolution institute a key component of its two-year offering.id="attachment_19795" align="alignleft" width="400"Pepperdine Law Dean Tacha for Daily Journal on 2-year JD program Photo: Daily Journal. Original caption: "Pepperdine School of Law Dean Deanell Reece Tacha says the school's accelerated law degree program is meeting its modest enrollment goals, suggesting that a targeted approach may help Pepperdine succeed where others have not.""If Pepperdine is building their program in a small and concentrated way and taking advantage of their earned brand, that seems to be just what the doctor ordered given their mission and capacity," said Daniel B. Rodriguez, dean of Northwestern's law school.

He also said a Pepperdine-like model may be the one other law schools pursue when launching two-year programs they hope to maintain.

"It could be the schools that thrive in these accelerated programs are ones that are very targeted and focused, not overly ambitious in size and scale," Rodriguez said.

Deborah Jones Merritt, a professor at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law, has concerns about whether two-year programs are a good option for students, especially since many of them cost the same as a three-year degree. She also highlighted that students typically rely on part-time jobs and summer positions to line up full-time jobs after graduation, and accelerated programs provide less opportunity for that.

But Merritt said that the Pepperdine program, especially with its tie-in to dispute resolution courses, seemed like a solid approach for an accelerated offering.

"It is an interesting option that shows they are flexible to the needs of students," said Merritt, whose school does not offer a two-year degree.

Pepperdine's two-year program has persisted even as others with loftier ambitions and larger enrollments have not.


Jeremy Levy entered the program in 2013 after working in the entertainment industry as a writer and working with special needs children.

As a married man in his mid-30s, Levy said he was drawn to Pepperdine's two-year offering because he wanted to secure his degree in a shorter timeframe. He said the program was very intensive, but extremely fulfilling.

Levy, who graduated in 2015, is now an associate at Tobin Lucks LLP in Woodland Hills.

Meanwhile, many of those who started the traditional program the year Levy began at Pepperdine just finished taking the California bar exam.

"I have been working for a year, and I feel like I am ahead of the game," Levy said.


Moving forward, the dean at Pepperdine's law school said the program will continue to be more about meeting the needs of some students than generating a substantial amount of new students or revenue.

"It is not one we are looking to for significant growth," Tacha said.

The full article may be viewed on the Daily Journal website (subscription required).