What You Should Know About Juris Doctor (JD) Programs
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Alexander Oddo in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
Several types of Juris Doctor (JD) programs are available to those who are interested in entering the legal profession and becoming a practicing attorney. In this article, we cover 3 + 3 accelerated programs and the traditional pathway from a bachelor’s degree to a Juris Doctor.
3 + 3 Programs
A 3 + 3 program offers an accelerated pathway to an undergraduate degree and JD. It takes three years to earn each degree, for a total of six years of higher education, which means these programs reduce the amount of time that you spend in college and law school by one year. One potential downfall is that these programs could be binding. If you enroll in a 3 + 3 program, you would be required to attend law school, and you cannot apply to different law schools. Moreover, if you decide that you do not want to attend law school, you might need to return some tuition, pay fees, or spend more time and money to complete your undergraduate degree.
Here are a few universities that offer 3 + 3 law programs. Note that many universities do not offer such programs.
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of San Francisco
- University of Arizona
- DePaul University
- Quinnipiac University
Traditionally, students take up to four years to complete their bachelor’s degree (Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science) in any academic discipline and three years to complete their JD. In terms of timing, you would apply to law school during your final year of undergraduate study or one or more gap years before matriculating at law school. If you take time between college and law school, you can gain valuable experience in the legal field or pursue other, nonlegal interests prior to attending law school.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Law School
There are many factors to consider when choosing a law school to attend. Here are a few examples:
- Ranking: A law school’s national ranking plays an important role in the legal profession when evaluating candidates for jobs, internships, and clerkships. Students from the top five, ten, and fourteen law schools have access to certain opportunities, such as prestigious clerkships or jobs at corporate law firms, that students from lower-ranked law schools do not.
- Bar exam passage rate: This is the percentage of students from a particular law school who pass the bar exam on their first attempt. The bar exam passage rate is a helpful metric for assessing how prepared students from a particular law school are for taking and passing the bar.
- Location: Take into account the campus environment, city, and state where a law school is located. It is helpful to attend a law school in an urban area where there are plenty of internship and job opportunities available. You should also think about where you want to live and practice law post-graduation and consider attending a school that is near this location.
- Tuition, financial aid, and scholarships: Law school is notoriously expensive, and it is important to know how much tuition costs and whether a school provides financial aid or offers scholarships.
- Legal curriculum and faculty: Students with particular interests in a certain area of law will want to do their research and identify schools whose curriculum and faculty align with their interests.
- Jobs, internships, and clinics: The law school curriculum extends beyond the classroom, and it is crucial that you gain experience learning how to practice law. Take the time to learn about what job, internship, and clinic opportunities are available to law students, and determine whether these intersect with your areas of interest.
- Career services: Learn what career services programming and support are in place for current students and alums. You will go through the job search process many times during and after graduating from law school, so you will want to attend a school with an active, resourceful, and effective career services office.
This article has more information about the steps that you need to take before and after law school on the path to becoming a practicing attorney.