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Law School Offers 'Risk-Free' J.D.

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GRADUATING FROM LAW SCHOOL
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Maybe all those stories about law school being a bad investment are sinking in: law school applications are way down.

The issue has led a Cleveland law school to offer what they're calling the country's first "risk-free" J.D. program.

The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law announced earlier this month that students who decide to drop out after finishing one year won't walk away empty-handed. They'll get a "master of legal studies" degree, without completing any additional cousework.

"This new opportunity removes at least some of the financial and personal risk inherent in a large educational undertaking, and comes at a time when people appreciate more guarantees," Craig Boise, dean of the law school, said in a news release.

The National Journal notes that the value of one year MLS degrees is "is hotly debated among legal educators."

And not just legal educators. On the TaxProf Blog, one commenter going by the possibly telling name Unemployed Northeastern asked what sounds like a reasonable question: "If the J.D. is not attractive to employers, why would 1/3 of a J.D. be attractive to employers?"

U.S. News ranked Cleveland-Marshall 115th out of 194 law schools accredited by the American Bar Association. In-state tuition is $23,816 per year, out-of-station tuition is $32,692 per year. Twenty-eight percent of students are employed at graduation, according to U.S. News. (Not relevant, but notably bizarre: Last year, Boise stood accused by Cleveland-Marshall professors of giving "satanic" merit pay bonuses of $666 in relation to staff who served as union organizers; the charge was later dismissed.)

"This new opportunity removes at least some of the financial and personal risk inherent in a large educational undertaking," Boise said in the news release, "and comes at a time when people appreciate more guarantees."

Tell us in the comments: Does this program sound risk-free to you, or is it a sign of the apocalypse (or neither)?

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