The history of the Florida A&M University College of Law (FAMU Law) is steeped in the civil rights movement. The original law school was established in 1949 as state of Florida did not have a law school that admitted African-American students. After 15 years in operation, the state legislature shut down FAMU Law after the law school’s vocal support for desegregation. Over three decades later, the Florida Legislature re-established the law school–this time in Orlando–to help serve the state’s underrepresented communities. In 2005, FAMU Law’s new building opened to students, a 160,000 square-foot building located in heart of downtown Orlando. Today, the student body is predominantly minority (over 60%) and recognized as one of the most diverse law schools in the country.
The Juris Doctor program at FAMU Law requires 90 hours of coursework completed either in a three-year, full-time program or in a four-year, part-time program with evening classes. The 90 hour program–whether part or full-time–requires the same slate of mandatory courses. All six of the core courses of American legal education are required: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. In terms of required substantive courses, all students complete classes in business organizations, evidence, and professional responsibility.
FAMU Law also requires an extensive slate of experiential courses for all students. Students complete a two-semester study of legal research and writing as well as a two-semester study covering analytic skills. All FAMU Law graduates complete either a clinical program or 20 hours of qualifying pro bono work. In addition, students must complete six hours of experiential education and complete an upper-level writing project.
In choosing their elective program, all students are strongly encouraged to take courses commonly covered on the Florida Bar Examination.
FAMU Law’s Academic Success & Bar Preparation (ASBP) program is a multi-faceted plan to engage with students consistently through their academic careers to help ensure success in law school, on the bar exam, and in their professional careers. The ASBP programs starts before students ever step foot in the classroom with extensive skill assessments and continues after graduate with its pioneering Bar Exam Success Training (BEST) program. The BEST program last for 12 weeks and has demonstrable success in helping FAMU Law graduates pass the bar exam.
Career and Career Placement
Based on employment outcome data from the most recent graduating class, over 75% of all FAMU Law graduates are employed within 10 months of graduation. Of those employed, 81% find long-term, full-time careers. Almost 80% of employed graduates find careers that either requires a law license or prefer a Juris Doctor degree. In general, FAMU Law graduates find careers outside the traditional law firm career path. In all, one-third of all employed graduates chose a career in a private law firm. The most popular career choice was to work in government offices (23%) followed by careers in the business sector (20%). A substantial portion of students (19%) chose careers in the public interest sector reflecting the school’s mission to serve underrepresented communities.
The Office of Career Planning and Professional Development (CPPD) at FAMU Law works with students and alumni throughout their professional careers to increase their marketability, enhance their professional development, and help all graduates secure meaningful employment. The CPPD uses a comprehensive online career development portal that allows students to manage their professional development from anywhere. Additionally, students meet with career counselors to prep for interviews, talk about career strategies, and prepare resumes. The CPPD manages the school’s on-campus interview program as well as posts job opportunities to the online portal. FAMU Law also participates in a number of job fairs around the state to help recruit their students.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
All FAMU Law students learn to practice law through an extensive set of required courses that cover the fundamental skills of legal writing, research, and analytics. In addition, all students are required to complete either a clinical program or 20 hours of qualified pro bono service in addition to six credits of designated experiential learning courses. The clinical program places students in the a civil or criminal setting under the supervision of practicing attorneys. Students learn while practicing law. The clinic also take a classroom component that helps students transfer their academic lessons into the practice of law.
FAMU Law offers a dozen experiential learning courses that cover a range of skills needed by practicing attorneys. The courses cover trial skills including appellate advocacy and advanced trial practice as well as transactional skills such as contract drafting and negotiation. Students also have the option of substituting a field placement for one of these courses. Like the clinic, students in field placement work in a legal office while also receiving classroom instruction. In the field, their work is supervised by a licensed attorney as students build the necessary skills to practice law on their own.
FAMU Law fully embraces its mission to educate African-American students as well as develop lawyers who are committed to the public good. The school is regarded as one of the most diverse student bodies in the country with over 60% of students identifying as minorities. The law school supports almost two dozen student organizations which give voice to the many causes and viewpoints of the “Legal Rattlers.” Throughout the year, the law school and the student bar organization plan events for students to socialize, engage the community in service, and network with the city’s legal community.
The FAMU Law campus is located in the heart of downtown Orlando in a stunning, modern campus that offers students an impressive set of amenities including a large library and extensive student spaces. The location places the law school in the center of Orlando thriving and revitalized downtown is full of unique dining and entertainment opportunities. Orlando offers students professional sports year-round and quick access to Florida’s endless recreational opportunities. The school’s proximity to Orlando’s major interstate also gives students easy access from affordable housing options throughout the region.