The law school at Arizona State University (ASU Law) was renamed the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in 2006, after the first female Supreme Court Justice and former attorney general of Arizona. The law school first opened its door to students in the late 1960s and graduated its first class of law students in 1970. In its short history, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law has become one of the ten best public law schools in the country. In 2016, the school moved to its current location in downtown Phoenix in the state-of-the-art Beus Center for Law which is one of the most impressive law buildings in the country. ASU Law accepts only 35% of applicants and has ranked in the top 20 for employment over the last several graduating classes.
ASU Law requires its first-year students to take six core courses: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property and torts. First-year students also take courses focusing on legal writing & advocacy as well as a class in professional responsibility. The only other required courses after the first year are an additional semester in constitutional law and a course in criminal procedure.
Upper-class students are free to direct their curriculum from ASU Law’s substantial offerings of over 250 courses. The college of law does offer 11 distinct focus areas that suggest courses of study for students interested in a particular field of law. Additionally, ASU Law has four certificate programs that demonstrate a student’s mastery of coursework and practical skills in a given field of law. The four practice areas in the certificate program are Sustainability, Technology, Indian Law, and Sports and Business.
ASU requires 88 course hours to graduate and requires students to complete their studies in residence. However, the college of law also offers a “Flexible Schedule” J.D. which permits students to complete their degree in fewer days on campus and over the course of more semesters. The flexible schedule program has the same graduation requirements as the regular schedule. Both programs also require experiential learning and an upper level writing assignment.
ASU Law offers a number of additional degree programs for the aspiring lawyer or practitioners in other disciplines who need a grounding in American Law. International students with a law degree from another country may apply for the Juris Doctor with Advanced Standing (JDAS) program which allows students to complete the curriculum in two years. Obtaining a JDAS degree allows a graduate to sit for the bar exam in any U.S. jurisdiction.
Students who wish to build on their Juris Doctor degree can enroll in the Master of Law (LL.M) program. This one year program provides student the option of focusing on their preferred practice area or students may opt for one of the two predesigned LL.M programs: Biotechnology & Genomics or Tribal Policy, Law & Government. Students are required to complete 24 hours of coursework over two semesters.
For non-attorneys, ASU Law offers to graduate programs intended to provide a solid grounding in the principles of law for professionals in other disciplines. The Masters of Legal Studies (MLS) program is a general education that covers the basic of the U.S. legal system while the Master of Sports Law and Business (MSLB) program is focused on the field of sports and business law to prepare professionals for careers in the sporting industry.
Career and Career Placement
ASU Law’s most recent graduation statistics show that over 92% of graduates find work within 10 months of graduation. The overwhelming majority of first careers either require a law license (80%) or prefer a law degree (18%). While most graduates pursued a law firm setting for their first job, the most popular firm were smaller firms of 2-10 lawyers. ASU Law also a history of student opting for government jobs (24.4% of the class of 2018). Local and state judicial clerkships are another popular option accounting for almost 10% of the jobs for the class of 2018. As expected, Arizona was the most common jurisdiction for graduates to begin their careers with California and Washington, D.C. being the next most popular destinations.
ASU Law has a full time Office of Career Employment Services which focuses on creating networking opportunities for students andp prospective employees, develops the professional resumes of all students, and provides 1 on 1 counseling to help students begin their legal careers. Additionally, ASU Law has a commitment to its alumni through their “Life of Law” to help their alumni continue their legal careers in the future.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
To satisfy the requirement for experiential learning, ASU Law students can participate in legal clinics, externships, pro bono programs, and moot court. The externship program offers one credit hour for every 55 hours worked in externship anywhere in the country. Although Arizona is the most common location for an externship, students have pursued work in Washington, D.C. and California.
With over 10 legal clinics for its law students, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law has been providing pro bono legal services since 1969. Students in the law clinics work closely under the supervision of faculty to help address the real legal problems of persons in the local community. Upwards of 90% of all ASU Law students participate in the clinical program during their time at Arizona State. The school also offers a number of additional pro bono programs that allow students to gain valuable practical skills while affirming the school’s deep commitment to public service.
ASU Law also provides experiential learning through its Moot Court program which provides students practical appellate advocacy skills (including research, writing and oral arguments) in a competitive setting.
Situated in the heart of downtown Phoenix, the Beus Center for Law and Society is a stunning piece of architecture which reflects ASU Law’s commitment to changing legal education. The state-of-the-art facility blends open space with private rooms for study and discussion while blurring traditional lines between inside and outside with its stunning glass fronts and open courtyards. Inside the center, ASU Law students engage in an extremely active student life with countless student organizations focused on civic, social, and education connections.
The city of Phoenix provides students with one of the most unique living situations in one America’s most thriving cities. Students enjoy access to Phoenix’s endless entertainment options including ASU sports game and a host of professional teams. The surrounding area is full of recreational and archaeological history. Housing is notably affordable and the city boasts stellar weather for most of the year.