The Case Western Reserve University School of Law (Case Western Law) was established in 1892 as the first law school in Northern Ohio. The larger University takes its name from the region which was known as the “Western Reserve” of Connecticut in the 19th century. Aside from being one of the first American Bar Association-accredited law schools, Case Western Law is well-known for its health law concentration as well as its unique approach to legal education which folds practical and academic classes into the entire Juris Doctor program. Its alumni have become notable jurist and politician serving both the state of Ohio and filling a number of seats on the federal bench.
Starting in 2013, Case Western Law pioneered a new approach to legal education which emphasizes the combination of practical and academic lessons from the first year of law school. First-year students begin working with clients immediately and continue to hone their practical skills in a variety of ways throughout their academic careers. The first-year curriculum contains five core courses: civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Students also take a course that overviews the legislative and regulatory process. Aside from two one-credit electives, the remainder of the first-year curriculum is entirely skill-based learning including courses on research, writing, and advocacy where students first begin working with clients. The practical courses are taught as a three course capstone sequence as students learn the fundamentals of practicing law.
The second-year of law school at Case Western Law is a challenging combination of continued coursework in fundamental courses (constitutional law, evidence, and professional responsibility are required) along with a continued emphasis on advance litigation or transactional skills. Students complete an upper-level writing assignment in their second year as well as complete all experiential education requirements.
The final year at Case Western Law is spent almost entirely in the practice of law either internally at the school’s legal clinic or externally in an externship. Students complete any electives or core courses to round out their academic goals as they prepare to transition to their professional life.
Case Western Law offers five Master of Laws (LL.M) degrees of which four focus on a particular practice area and one presents an overview of U.S. law intended for international students. The general LL.M is recommended for international students preparing to sit for the bar exam in the United States. The other five LL.M program focus on intellectual property and various international law fields (business, commercial, and criminal). The focus on international law reflects Case Western Law’s commitment to meet the increasingly international character of the legal practice. All LL.M degrees require 24 hours of residential coursework.
For students interested in pursuing a career in legal academia or researching a legal issue for publication, Case Western Law offers a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degree program. Students spend two years in residence including a blend of classroom work and research as they define their thesis. Students spend an additional two years completing their research and writing under close supervision of faculty.
For other professionals, Case Western Law offers 14 different Masters programs in a range of subject matters including patent practice and financial integrity. These programs require 30 hours of coursework and provide professionals with a foundation in various specifications.
Career and Career Placement
Based on statistics from the most recent graduating classes, over 92% of graduates of Case Western Law are either employed or pursuing additional education within 10 months of graduation. Over 83% of students are employed in careers that either requires a law license or prefer a Juris Doctor degree. Over half of graduates opted for careers in a traditional law firm work with small law firms (1-10 attorneys) being the most common choice. A substantial portion of graduates opted for careers in the business sector (16%), government positions (20%), and the public interest sector (14%). A little over half of Case Western Law graduates remained in Ohio to begin their careers with New York and Washington, D.C. being the second and third most popular choices.
Case Western Law’s Career Development Office post over 1,300 jobs for students and alumni each year and hosts over 25 programs designed to help students prepare for their professional careers. The office provides one-on-one counseling to all students as well as a variety of resources including a resource room with materials for students. The CDO administers two formal recruiting processes every year which brings employers on campus to interview students for a variety of jobs.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Case Western Law is a pioneer in experiential learning priding itself on graduating “practice-ready” attorneys. In their third year, all students spend most of their year in either the school’s internal clinic working with real clients for the year or in an externship which places students in a legal office in the greater Cleveland area. This year-long process mirrors the real world profession of practicing law which provides students with an incomparably experience as they transition into full-time practice.
Students can also work in one of Case Western Law’s practice labs which present a variety of legal problems that students solve through collaboration and interdisciplinary skills over the course of a semester. The school houses six unique labs and students work on real cases that have presented to faculty members by practitioners or judges.
Case Western Law requires residential coursework for all its degree programs.
With almost 30 student run organizations and a dedicated office for student services, Case Western Law is a dynamic campus which offers students a range of services outside the classroom. The office for student services provides tutoring in both writing skills and lessons targeted at the first-year curriculum, organizes social activities both within the school and with the larger legal community, and provides opportunities for students to perform pro bono work for the Cleveland community at-large. The school also is home to a vibrant international community of law students.
The city of Cleveland, Ohio offers students all the amenities of big city at a fraction of the cost. Housing adjacent to the law school is available in some of the nicest communities in Cleveland at affordable prices. The greater Cleveland community offers students a city in transformation that is full of professional sports and an array of dining and entertainment options.