Two-Year Accelerated J.D. - SCALE

Southwestern offers the longest-running two-year accelerated J.D. program in the country. Known as SCALE, the program features an accelerated law school curriculum that challenges students to master analytical reasoning and legal writing skills while remaining sensitive to ethical obligations and client needs.

Trailblazing since 1975, the SCALE Program focuses on integrating substantive knowledge and professional skills instruction - a model that is just now being incorporated into curricular reforms at many other law schools in response to the call for more practical skills training in legal education. By introducing additional innovations in recent years, SCALE has also kept pace with the growing demand of law students for both structure and flexibility in a two-year immersion program. Because of the unique curriculum and accelerated pace of the program, the SCALE admissions process includes a personal interview with each applicant.

SCALE is a registered trademark owned by Southwestern Law School

Small Class Sizes

SCALE cohorts and class sizes are smaller and more interactive than traditional sections.  Your cohort becomes your family.  Many SCALE graduates feel they have an advantage over job-seekers from three- and four-year programs. 

Image - SCALE Cohort

Flexible Curriculum

SCALE offers a flexible second-year curriculum created through a choice of summer session electives, second-year elective choices, particular externship placements, and honors programs participation. 

Image - SCALE Evidence Class

Guaranteed Externships

Experiential learning lives at the heart of the SCALE curriculum, and every SCALE student receives a guaranteed full-time externship. Recent placements include Warner Music, MGM, CBS, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the United States District Court, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, SAG-AFTRA, and the Constitutional Rights Foundation. 

Image - SCALE Externships

What is SCALE?

In its 45th year, SCALE is currently the longest running two-year J.D. program in the country. Associate Dean for SCALE Harriet M. Rolnick has been directing the program since 2006 and has been teaching in SCALE since 2000.

When does the first year of SCALE start for the 2021-2022 academic year?

The first year of SCALE (SCALE I) begins June 14, 2021.

When do applications open?

Applications to Southwestern typically open up in September. For more information, please contact Admissions (admissions@swlaw.edu or 213-738-6834) or visit our website here for more information.  

Are scholarships available for SCALE?

Yes. It is strongly recommended that students submit their application as soon as possible if they wish to be considered for a scholarship.

If SCALE is my second/third choice and I receive a scholarship award for my first-choice program, does the scholarship transfer over if I ultimately decide to make SCALE my first choice?

Yes, the scholarship does transfer to the SCALE program in the event that you switch to SCALE as your first choice.

Does the school provide on-campus housing?

Yes, Southwestern provides on-campus housing at the Residences at 7th. You may contact Student Housing (housing@swlaw.edu or 213-738-5500) or visit our website here for more information.

Is there an interview process for SCALE?

Yes, applicants must be interviewed before any decisions are made on their SCALE applications. An applicant invited for an interview will meet with Dean Rolnick or a SCALE professor. Due to the current pandemic, interviews will be conducted over Zoom or, alternatively, over the phone.

Interviews are typically held from October to April.

What can I expect during the interview?

During the interview, your interviewer will typically discuss the SCALE program with you (curriculum, schedule, differences between other programs at Southwestern, etc.) and will give you an opportunity to ask any questions you may have. This will also be an opportunity to get to know you better on a personal level and determine if SCALE is a good fit. Interviews last between 45 minutes to one hour.

How can I prepare for my SCALE interview?

Review the SCALE website and supplementary materials provided by the SCALE Office, consider any question you may have about the program or Southwestern in general, and review your application if possible. A positive, engaging attitude is always helpful.

Do I need to provide anything before or during my interview?

No, unless you have supplementary or new information you wish to share with your interviewer.

What should I wear?

Business-casual is preferred.

What is the typical SCALE class size?

A typical SCALE class consists of 45 to 50 students, although there have been years where we have had larger class sizes.

How many hours of class are there in a day?

Students can typically expect to be taking 2 to 3 classes on a daily basis, roughly 15 to 18 hours of class per week. Classes do not begin before 9 a.m. and tend to end between 3 to 4 p.m.

May a SCALE student take traditional electives?

Yes, there is flexibility during the SCALE Summer Session and during the second year of SCALE for a student to take traditional electives. Southwestern offers the following five concentrations: Civil Litigation & Advocacy, Criminal Law & Advocacy, Entertainment & Media Law, Public Interest Law, and Technology Law & Entrepreneurship. SCALE students who choose to pursue a concentration are able to satisfy the requirements with SCALE core and elective courses as well as traditional electives.

Does SCALE require the same number of units as the traditional program?

SCALE requires 87 units for graduation, the same number as the traditional program. SCALE students typically take 10 to 12 units per Period with a 6-unit Summer Session in between their first and second years.

Does SCALE go by a semester system?

Similar to the quarter system, the SCALE curriculum is broken down into eight periods, with Periods 1-4 making up Year 1 (SCALE I) and Periods 5-8 making up Year 2 (SCALE II).

What is the duration of each period?

Each period lasts approximately 10-12 weeks.

Does SCALE allow for externships?

All SCALE students will complete a mandatory eight-to-ten week externship during their last Period of the program. Many SCALE students also pursue an externship during the summer between the first and second years.

Can SCALE students participate in an honors program while a student at Southwestern?

Yes, SCALE students are well represented in all of the honors programs, including Moot Court, Trial Advocacy, Negotiation, Law Review and Law Journal.

Image - SCALE Class of 2019