Founded in 1973, J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University (BYU Law) is one of the newest and most prestigious law schools in the country. The school operated for its first two years in a repurposed Catholic school until it moved to its current home–the 100,000 square foot J. Reuben Clark building, which is named for a former ambassador of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In its relatively short history, BYU Law has become one of the top schools in the country especially for its relatively low cost and the high quality of its education. BYU Law has produced a number of 9th Circuit Justices along with Federal District and State Appellate Court justices. Along with some of the most stringent admissions standards in the country, BYU Law also requires its students to agree to abide by its honor code which precludes certain behaviors that are prohibited by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
First-year law students at BYU Law are required to take six core courses that build a foundation in the legal principles of American jurisprudence: Civil Procedure, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, Structures of the Constitution, and Torts. Students also complete courses in legal writing & research, advocacy, and perspectives in law.
The only other required course for graduation is a class in professional responsibility (generally taken in the second year). Students are also required to complete a graduate-level writing assignment as well as six credits of practical, skill-based education. The school offers small, seminar courses to satisfy the writing requirement and a range of classes and experiential education opportunities to satisfy the practical skills requirement.
BYU Law allows students to earn up to six hours of non-law courses from any graduate department at the university in order to broaden their perspective on the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of law. Students are also permitted to earn credit hours for research performed under the direction of a faculty member.
For international students with a foreign law degree, BYU Law also offers an intense, 8-month Masters of Law (LL.M) degree that is completed in two semesters. Although the program is geared for foreign students who intend to practice in their home countries, English fluency is required for the LL.M program. Like the Juris Doctor program, LL.M students are also bound by the honor code and admission requires a recommendation from their local religious leader or a religious leader of The Church of Latter-day Saints.
Aside from the master’s program, BYU Law also offers four joint degree programs that allow students in the Juris Doctor program to earn a second graduate degree in either: Business (MBA), Public Administration (MPA), Accountancy (MAcc), or Education (MEd). Each of the joint programs requires admission to both programs separately. The joint degree programs are designed to complete both degrees in four years.
Career and Career Placement
Within 10 months of graduation, over 96% of the graduating class of 2018 at BYU Law had found long term employment. Over 85% of those jobs either required bar passage or preferenced a Juris Doctor degree. BYU Law has also placed an emphasis on placing students in Federal and State judicial clerkships as reflected by the 13% of graduates who accepted such positions. Although work in law firms is the most common employment type, more graduates chose work in small firms (2-10 attorneys) to large firms (500+). A substantial number of students (17%) pursued careers in the government sector. While Utah was the most common destination for graduates, nearby California and Nevada are also popular destinations for graduates of BYU Law.
With seven full-time staff members and a student body of roughly 130 per class, the BYU Law Career Center has one of the best ratios of career center personnel to students in the country. The Career Center organizes all career activities and engages with students from the start of their education to help prepare them to find the best possible career upon graduation. The Career Center organizes an expansive fall recruiting program that centers around on and off-campus interviews with prospective employers. While the Career Center provides students with resources, they also work to empower students to take ownership of their career search.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
In order to build practical, hands-on skills to prepare for a career in law, BYU Law offers over 25 professional skills courses. Students must complete at least six hours of these courses. One of the course offerings is a semester in BYU Law’s clinical program. The clinical offerings provide students with over a dozen different practice areas to serve real clients with real legal problems. The clinics allow students a wide array of legal practice areas to hone their real-world skills. BYU Law also offers credit hours for externships, participation in the Moot Court or Trial Advocacy program, as well as courses that simulate transactional work.
BYU Law requires both the Juris Doctor and LL.M programs to completed in residence.
Although affiliated with The Church of Latter-day Saints, the students enrolled at BYU Law represent a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. The school, however, is firmly rooted in the traditions of its sponsoring Church and faith is frequently on display in and around the campus. Students can immerse themselves in the robust student organization program, participate in one of the many competition teams, or write for one of the student-run journals.
Set at the base of the Rocky Mountains, BYU Law school is located in the town of Provo, Utah with quick access to the exceptional outdoor activities as well as the bustling metropolis of Salt Lake City. The city of Provo provides abundant housing options as well as a plethora of dining and recreational opportunities. BYU Law has also shown its commitment to student wellness with the addition of a full-time counselor to the staff.