In 2005, responding to the need for practice-ready law school graduates, Drexel University opened the first law school in Philadelphia in over three decades. The Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law (Drexel Law) joined the city’s thriving legal education community–there are five other law schools in the city limits. True to its mission, Drexel focused its curriculum on teaching practical skills in order to graduate students who are practice-ready. The law school’s namesake, a renowned Philadelphia trial lawyer, donated $50 million to the school in 2014. Since gaining accreditation in 2011 from the American Bar Association, the law school has increased in statute and ranking.
Given that it is one of the newest law schools in the country, Drexel Law built innovation into all facets of its academic program. Its Juris Doctor program allows students to complete the degree in a traditional three-year period or an accelerated track that can be completed in two years. The first-year curriculum at Drexel Law contains familiar core courses: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Students take a course in professional responsibility as well as courses in legal methodology, legislation, and regulation.
After completing the first-year curriculum, students can pursue one of four legal concentrations (business law, criminal law, health law, or intellectual property) or pursue their own academic programs. All students must complete an advanced writing assignment, a course covering statutory construction and interpretation, and satisfy the experiential education requirement through a co-op or clinic. All Drexel Law graduates–regardless of the track they choose–must complete 85 hours of coursework as well as five semesters of residency. All Drexel Law graduates are required to complete 50 hours of pro bono work.
Despite its recent entrance into the legal education market, Drexel Law offers a number of programs beyond its Juris Doctor degree. For students who have obtained their J.D. (or its foreign equivalent), Drexel Law offers Master of Laws (LL.M) program requiring 24 hours of residential coursework. LL.M candidates can choose between three concentrations: American law, data privacy and security, and health care compliance.
For non-attorneys, Drexel Law offers an online Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) program that ground professionals without a Juris Doctorate in the foundations of the legal system. The M.L.S. program offers students eight different concentrations–all highly regulated professional fields–or the option to design their own program to meet their professional goals. Additionally, Drexel Law offers several certification programs that can also be completed online. The certification provides training in either data privacy or compliance for professionals whose career would benefit from such training.
Juris Doctor candidates at Drexel Law also have the option of combining their J.D. with another professional degree from five other professional schools at Drexel University.
Drexel Law also offers a unique J.D. program for lawyers who obtained their law degree from a foreign university. The accelerated program allows students to complete their J.D. in under two years. The “global” J.D. credits students with up to 28 hours for their foreign law degree. Students are also immersed in a 15-hour co-op to ground themselves in the practice of law in the United States.
Career and Career Placement
Over 95% of graduates of Drexel Law are employed or pursuing additional education within 10 months of graduation. The majority of graduates–over 90%–are employed in careers that either require a law license or prefer a Juris Doctor degree. These statistics reflect Drexel’s reputation for creating practice-ready attorneys. This reputation is best reflected in the 30% of graduates who are awarded state or local judicial clerkships. Another third of graduates pursued traditional law firm work while 15% accepted positions in government positions or in the public interest sector.
Drexel Law’s Office of Career Services (OCS) offers students a range of services to help them meet their career goals. The office prepares students for their eventual careers through a host of pro-bono, summer internships, and co-operative services. These programs are fulfilled while students are still at Drexel Law but prepare them by building fundamental skills and connecting them with potential employers. The OCS plans programming events connecting students with potential employers and organizes all on-campus interviews.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
In many ways, Drexel Law was founded to provide students with experiential learning opportunities. The primary method for learning practice-ready skills at Drexel Law is through their co-op program that places students in over 100 law offices in the Philadelphia area. In their co-op, students learn on the job while also earning academic credit. Co-op are available in almost every practice area from law firms to public interest offices to judicial chambers.
Drexel Law also offers a clinical experience for students in both their in-house appellate advocacy clinic or through a partnership with public interest offices throughout Philadelphia. The clinical experience offers students another opportunity to learn practical skills while earning academic credit.
Drexel law’s Juris Doctor and LL.M programs require residential coursework although the school does offer several programs that can be completed online.
Law students at Drexel Law are shaping the school’s history and traditions. In its short history, the campus already boasts an impressive range of student organizations as well as a flexible program to create new organizations to serve the student body. Drexel Law stresses the need for students to balance their academic careers with mental and physical wellness. Drexel Law also offers bar examination preparation for all students.
Philadelphia is not only one of the best cities in America it is also one of the best for law students. Drexel Law students join the students from five other law schools in one of the most thriving legal communities in the United States. The city is renowned for its unique food, professional sports, and extensive history. The city offers affordable and abundant housing. Additionally, Philly is an easy drive (or train ride) from many of the East Coasts most popular destinations including New York and Washington, D.C.