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Juris Doctor Program

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The First-Year Curriculum

First-year students take courses that ensure they are well grounded in the subject matter that lies at the heart of the Anglo-American legal tradition and that provide a foundation for upper-level classes and for the practice of law. 2 aspects of the first-year curriculum — the lawyering course and the small-section program — contribute immeasurably to the process of learning the law at KU.

The lawyering course focuses on the skills and values of the profession. Taught by faculty members with extensive practice experience who meet weekly with students in both a traditional classroom setting and small groups, the course introduces students to the tools all lawyers use and helps bring students to an understanding of the legal system and legal institutions, case law and statutes, legal research and writing, and advocacy.

All first-year students take one of their other required courses in a small section of approximately 25 students. These classes provide an informal learning atmosphere and encourage in-depth discussions and critical analysis.

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Upper-Level Courses

More than 100 courses are available to upper-level students, covering a broad range of practice areas from environmental law to the law of Indian gaming. Many are seminars, simulation courses, or clinics. For curriculum guides to Business and Commercial Law; Civil Litigation; Constitutional Law; Criminal Law; Elder Law; Environmental and Natural Resources Law; General Practice; Intellectual Property Law; International and Comparative Law; Litigation; Media, Law, and Technology; Public Law; Tax Law; and Tribal Law, see the Academics section of the law school’s website.

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Clinical Programs and Externships

The KU law school was a pioneer in experiential education and today offers many faculty-supervised clinical opportunities and externships. All law students have a chance to participate in at least one of the school’s 12 clinics and externships. These programs expose students to the tasks and challenges faced by lawyers in practice. Law students, acting under close faculty supervision, learn substantive law, develop legal skills, and learn professional values in actual practice settings.

  • The Criminal Prosecution Clinic gives students an opportunity to work with prosecutors in Kansas state district attorneys’ offices as well as the office of the U.S. Attorney. They participate in nearly all phases of the criminal process, including trial work.
  • In the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies, students counsel and represent state and federal prisoners in appellate and post-conviction litigation in state and federal courts.
  • In the Elder Law Externship, students work under the supervision of experienced attorneys representing clients in matters such as income maintenance, access to health care, housing, social security, Medicare/Medicaid, and consumer protection.
  • The Externship Clinic provides students an opportunity to perform legal work under the supervision of a practicing attorney at pre-approved governmental agencies and public international organizations.
  • Students in the Immigration/Asylum Law Clinic collaborate with the instructor on appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals and prepare research reports in response to requests from lawyers and other policymakers. The clinic acquaints students with issues and procedures in immigration cases and provides instruction in legal writing, research, and analysis.
  • Students in the Judicial Clerkship Clinic serve as law clerks for state and federal trial judges in Kansas City, Topeka, and Lawrence.
  • Students in the Legal Aid Clinic represent indigent citizens of Douglas County in areas including domestic relations, landlord-tenant disputes, and other civil actions. They also serve as public defenders in municipal and juvenile court.
  • The focus of both the Legislative Clinic and the Public Policy Clinic is law-making. Students in the Legislative Clinic are assigned as interns to state legislators during the spring legislative session. In the Public Policy Clinic, students undertake policy studies in response to requests from public officials.
  • Media Law Clinic students, under the supervision of the clinic director, respond to questions presented by lawyers, policymakers, publishers, and others concerned with the media.
  • In the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, students provide legal assistance at the Southwest Boulevard Family Health Care Clinic and the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., and the Health Care Access Clinic in Lawrence, Kan. Cases may include health law, family law, housing law, public benefits law, disability law, and immigration law.
  • In the Tribal Judicial Support Clinic, students provide research assistance in an array of projects ranging from tribal code development to drafting memoranda and orders.
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International Study

The law school sponsors several study abroad programs for its students. They include

  1. A 1-semester program in London, through the London Law Consortium, of which the KU law school is a founding member;
  2. A summer program in Limerick, Ireland, in collaboration with the University of Limerick; and
  3. A summer program in Istanbul, Turkey, in collaboration with Bahcesehir University.

All have been approved by the American Bar Association. In addition, KU history and law faculty members collaborate to sponsor a summer program in Cambridge, England, focusing on Anglo-American legal history. This program is open to undergraduates and to entering law students before they begin their studies in the fall term of their first year. KU law students also may choose from among numerous other ABA-approved summer study abroad programs.

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Accelerated Program

The School of Law offers a summer program that is fully integrated with the curriculum of the fall and spring semesters. First-year students may begin their studies in either the summer session or the fall semester. Students beginning law studies in the summer session may, but are not required to, complete their law degrees in 27 months by being enrolled continuously in 2 academic years and 3 contiguous summer sessions. About one-third of the students in each year’s entering class begin their studies in the summer.

The summer program consists of 2 consecutive 5-week sessions that begin in mid-May and conclude at the end of July. Each course offered during the summer meets approximately 80 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

A first-year student takes 2 required first-year courses in each session. At the end of the second session, the student has accumulated 8 of the 90 hours required for graduation.

In addition to first-year courses, several upper-level courses usually are offered in the summer. There are opportunities to participate in Legal Aid Clinic, Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies, Externship Clinic, and Judicial Clerkship Clinic during both summer sessions. Almost all summer session courses (including the clinics) carry 2 to 2.5 credit hours a session. Upper-level students may take 2 courses each session. Enrollment in more than 10 hours must be approved by the associate dean for academic affairs.

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2-Year J.D. Program for Foreign-Trained Lawyers

Students with foreign law degrees may pursue J.D. degrees through the 2-Year J.D. Program for Foreign-Trained Lawyers. This program can be an attractive option for such students and makes them more marketable to employers who see the benefit of having some of their attorneys bear full credentials in 2 or more jurisdictions. The foreign students/lawyers also add a cosmopolitan flavor to classes and help create an excellent professional network for other students and graduates.

For more information about the program, see the Academics section of the law school’s website.

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