Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The "risk-free" J.D.

Cleveland-Marshall Law School has begun offering what it calls a "risk-free" J.D.  in that students who complete their first year of law school but decide that the practice of law is not for them can walk away with an MLS (masters of legal studies) instead.  It's risk-free in the sense that students will earn a credential after their first year of law school rather than having to incur even more debt chasing a J.D. when job prospects for attorneys can be poor.  A student possessing an MLS cannot sit for the bar in Cleveland-Marshall's home state of Ohio.  The article suggests that other law schools also offer an MLS degree, though Cleveland Marshall claims to be the first to allow students to jump from a J.D. track to an MLS track.   The National Law Journal has more details.

Risk-Free' J.D. Offers Students a One-Year Escape Hatch

At Cleveland-Marshall, they can leave with a master's degree if they change their minds about practicing law.


The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law is launching what it calls the first “risk-free” juris doctor program.

The initiative will allow students who complete one year of studies but don’t want to continue their legal educations to receive a master of legal studies (MLS) degree. The idea is to provide a foundation in the law without actually preparing students to practice. Holders of the master degree are not eligible to sit for the bar examination.


“There are many good reasons why a law student may decide not to continue to pursue a J.D.,” dean Craig Boise said. “They might have financial concerns, family or personal issues, or they may realize that though they still have an interest in law, a career in traditional legal practice is not right for them.”


With this program, that year won’t be a waste of their time, and the degree would be attractive to employers, Boise said.


Cleveland-Marshall began offering a master of legal studies degree this year, following a trend among law schools that hope to broaden their student base amid waning interest in the traditional J.D. But it does appear to be the first to offer such a “convertible” J.D.


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