Northwestern Law has announced that they will now offer a two-year J.D. program in which classes start the summer before traditional 1L year.
This is an awful idea.
First, Northwestern just jumped from 12 to 9 in the U.S. News rankings. Why start this gimmick now, just as things are looking up?
Second, Northwestern is a small law school that prides itself on being a small community in which professors and students actually know each other. Creating a segment of the student body that runs on a different track can only wall off some of that community by having some students take an entire semester of classes before they get to meet anyone else in the school and then making them take extra classes so as to ensure they won't have any time to socialize.
Third, by making the two-years take an extra class each semester, the school is making it nearly impossible for these students to participate in journals, clinics and student groups. Given that law firms and judges in the market for clerks like these things. Since post-graduate placement is a large part of the U.S. News rankings, I can't see how this is good for the school's overall prestige.
The two-years will be just like the L.L.M.s: a group of people who are "just passing through." Good if you're in it for the money, bad if you're in it to cement a reputation as a top ten law school.