The Law School will shorten its semester by one week this fall, allowing some students to enjoy a longer summer and attend job interviews, officials said.
Last month, the law faculty approved a Student Bar Association proposal to switch from a 14- to 13-week schedule for law students who have completed at least three semesters at the school. The students will also see their class time increase by five minutes.
All other students will remain at a 14-week schedule with no increase in class time.
“We have been debating it for a couple of years,” Law School Dean Michael Young said of the changes. “The faculty had been opposed to it largely because the evening students were disinclined to do it. It came up this year because the day students (explained) that they really were more in favor of it than they seemed.”
SBA members initially proposed that the current semester schedule be shortened by one week and that class time increase by 10 minutes for some students. The evening students, however, were opposed to the increase in class time because they already attend classes late into the night.
SBA President Evelyn Corrie Westbrook said she was willing to compromise on some parts of her group’s proposal to ensure the adoption of the new schedule.
“I worked with Dean (of Academic Affairs Roger) Trangsrud and Tom Fredrichs, president of the Evening Law Students Association, to make many changes to the new proposal to address many of those concerns,” she said.
Several law schools, including Duke and Northwestern universities, have switched to a 13-week semester since the American Bar Association rescinded rules a few years ago that required schools to operate on a 14-week schedule.
“I think that it will make our law school more attractive because it gives people a longer summer, which allows them to do internships or even split their summer experience between law and government jobs,” Young said. “A lot of schools are doing it, but that’s not our reasoning.”
Transgrud noted that the final exam schedule would not move as a result of the changes, but that the Law School’s Commencement will be held with the rest of the University next year. The Law School traditionally held its graduation a week after the University-wide Commencement.
“There will be no change in the length in our reading periods or the length of exam period,” he said. “The students feel that this is very important.”
Young said the change, which will push back the start date of classes for second- and third-year students, allows them to go to job interviews without worrying about missing class.
“As it turns out, we have a very robust fall interview period where students could have as often as five to six interviews a day,” he said. “If that interview period coincides with the first week of classes people would be missing a lot of class time and would also miss out on the drop/add period,” he said.
“It also permits us to experiment with our summer programs because we have more time off,” he added.
Westbrook said having a longer summer would allow students to earn more money for the fall semester.
“Many students split their summer between two jobs,” she said. “This will give them the chance to earn two more weeks’ worth of pay.”