The DePaul University College of Law (DePaul Law) traces its root back to the independent Illinois College of Law became part of the university in 1912. The law school’s campus is in the heart of Chicago’s loop although it has expanded numerous times by acquiring adjacent buildings. The school has long been a frontrunner in its clinical program which opened in 1972, one of the first in the country. In 1989, DePaul Law opened a practical skills center to further its emphasis on graduating practice-ready attorneys. In its 100 plus year history, DePaul Law has produced three mayors of Chicago as well as numerous state senators and congressmen.
DePaul Law’s Juris Doctor program requires 86 credit hours for completion that can be earned either through a full-time day program in three years or through a part-time evening program in four years. Both tracks have the same degree requirements. The core courses of American legal education are all required: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. In the first year (or first few semesters for part-time students). True to its history of educating practice-ready lawyers, DePaul law also requires a number of skill-based, practical courses: three semesters focused on legal research, analysis, and communication; two semesters covering preparing to practice law; and, a course covering professional responsibility. Students must also satisfy the requirement for six hours of experiential education as well as the upper-level writing requirement. Both requirements offer students a range of courses or practical experiences to satisfy the requirements. Select students also have the option of spending their third year in a unique program that places them in a practicing law office coupled with intensive coursework.
Students at DePaul Law may also opt to work towards one of the school’s 12 certification programs. Certifications indicate a mastery of a particular practice area in terms of academic coursework and skill-based exercises. Certifications range from common practice areas such as criminal law or family law to the unique certifications in arts and museum law or cybersecurity and data privacy law.
DePaul Law also offers advanced standing to international students who have already completed their law degree in their home country. The program allows foreign educated students to earn their degree in two years.
Along with their Juris Doctor program, DePaul Law offers students a Master of Law (LL.M) in several concentration area. For international students, the LL.M focuses on the U.S. legal system and allows an internationally educated lawyer to sit for the bar exam in the United States. The other four areas of concentration offer students the opportunity to gain further mastery of complex practice areas such as health law or taxation. All LL.M programs may be completed in a year or more if needed.
For non-attorneys, DePaul Law offers several programs to help professionals gain an understanding of the law’s impact and the intersection with their profession. The Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.) program is specifically designed for professionals whose careers often overlap with the law and regulation. The program requires one year of coursework for completion. Additionally, non-lawyers may work towards one of two healthcare compliance certifications that help healthcare professionals understand the myriad of compliance and legal issues that overlap with their industry.
J.D. candidates may also pursue a joint degree program that allows them to pair their law degree with another graduate degree. Students may pair their J.D. with DePaul Law’s LL.M degree, allowing them to increase their specialization and complete both programs in two years. Students may also pair their J.D. with a graduate degree from one of five other professional schools. These degrees allow students to share certain courses between both programs which allow students to complete both programs in less time than pursuing them separately.
Undergraduate students at DePaul in certain degree programs may also opt to pursue a 3+3 program that allows them to begin their first year of law school during the final year of their undergraduate education. This approach allows them to complete both degrees in a total of six years.
Career and Career Placement
Recent statistics from graduates of DePaul Law indicate that just under 90% of all graduates are employed within 10 months of graduation. Of those employed, 65% are employed in careers that require a law license while an additional 30% are employed in positions that prefer a Juris Doctor degree. Almost one-quarter of all employed graduates chose small law firms for their first career choice while another quarter opted for positions in the business sector. The other half of graduates chose work in all areas of the law from larger law firms (30%), government legal offices (10%), and public interest sector work (5%). Most graduates of DePaul Law (80%) begin their careers in the state of Illinois.
Students begin preparing their professional careers in their first year with individual counseling with their assigned career counselors. The Office of Career Services (OCS) assigns each student a counselor who works with them from their very first semester until they have started their professional careers. The OCS also offers several programs targeted at first-year law students. For second-year law students, the OCS organizes on-campus interviews for summer internships and long term employment. Second-year students may also participate in the school’s unique mentor program that pairs them with a practicing lawyer in the area. Third-year students also work with OCS on their interviews (on and off-campus) and participate in the many networking events organized by the OCS.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
DePaul Law is a leader in educating practice-ready lawyers. The school offers students over 30 experiential courses. Most of the courses involve skill-based classroom exercises such as practicums or simulations. Other courses include participation in DePaul’s nearly 50-year-old clinical program. The clinics provide upper-level students the opportunity to work in what of 11 different practice areas as they help meet the legal needs of the Chicago underrepresented communities.
DePaul Law also offers an externship program that allows students to spend a semester working in a local (or national) legal office under the supervision of a practicing attorney. The externship program offers a broader range of practice areas where students can build critical skills and develop their professional network.
As previously described, DePaul Law’s third year in practice program is a unique opportunity for select students to begin the practice of law during their final year of law school.
DePaul Law works hard to ensure the success of every student starting with their unique “Docent” program that assigns every first-year student an upper-class mentor to smooth their transition into law school. The law school also emphasizes wellness and co-curricular activities such as the school’s robust student organizations or their pro bono program. The law school practices “Wellness Wednesdays” that offer programs for students to encourage their mindfulness towards a balanced life. The greater university also provides an exception range of services for students including health and exercise facilities.
Depaul Law is in the heart of Chicago. The famed banks of Lake Michigan are only two blocks away from campus offering students access to Soldier Field and the nightly fireworks of the pier. Chicago is America’s second city and offers students a unique experience full of history, art, and theater. Housing is available in the greater Chicago area with numerous transportation options for reaching campus.