Quarter system integrates Law School

Feb. 22, 2010, 1:02 a.m.

Stanford Law School transitioned to the quarter system this school year with the goal of better integrating law students with the undergraduate community, and “inbound” and “outbound” enrollment–law students enrolled in non-Law School courses and vice versa–seems to indicate the change is working.

Total inbound and outbound enrollment has grown to 500 students annually, said Larry Kramer, dean of the Law School. Five years ago, that number was just 30.

Kramer cited the need for interdisciplinary training as one of the prime reasons for the schedule shift.

“Changes in the legal profession over the past 25 years have made it not just useful, but necessary for law students to learn a variety of things taught in other parts of the University,” Kramer said. “Lawyers need to understand what their clients need and want to accomplish, and to do that, they need to understand more than law.”

“The law school needed to change its calendar to bring itself in sync with the rest of the University, but cross-disciplinary learning is happening everywhere and across every discipline,” Kramer added. “It is happening at every university, too, though Stanford is ahead of other universities in this respect.”

Salone Kapur ’10, co-president of the Stanford Pre-Law Society, concurred with Kramer on the importance of a quarter schedule in studying different subjects to become a well-rounded law student.

“[The quarter system] really makes it easier for [law students] to take advantage of joint-degree programs,” Kapur said. “Taking advantage of courses outside the law school is really critical.”

Kapur also said that the law school’s transition to the quarter system offered benefits for undergraduates interested in law, though meeting law school course requisites can be challenging for undergraduates.

Another advantageous aspect of the switch is that undergrads who are prospective law students can easily schedule times to shadow a law student, as their schedules are now more synchronized, according to Kapur.

While Kramer said it is too early to say how professors and law students are responding to the shift, Kramer remarked that there have been mixed reviews, with some students favoring their new ability to enroll in more courses and others disliking the speed of the quarter system.

However, Kramer said there was enthusiasm within the field about the skills that law students could acquire through the shift.

“Future employers are excited about what we’re doing, and students will see the real benefits when they get out and discover what a difference the new curriculum makes in their ability to hit the ground running and get more responsibility early,” he said.

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