Founded in 1996 in Jacksonville, Florida, the Florida Coastal School of Law (Florida Coastal Law) is a private, independent law school whose mission is built around providing legal education to the underserved. Florida Coastal Law has the most diverse student body of any independent law school. The law school is also unique in that its mission is explicitly student outcome-centered. Florida Coastal Law measures its success on how well it educates its students, prepares them to pass the bar exam, and prepares them to practice law. The law school received accreditation from the American Bar Association in 2002 and is currently in good standing with the ABA.
Florida Coastal Law offers three separate paths to earning the Juris Doctor: a full-time path, a part-time path, and an accelerated path. All three paths require students to complete 90 hours of coursework. Additionally, Florida Coastal Law allows for rolling admissions so students may begin their academic careers in either the spring or fall. Regardless of their path, all students complete the same required substantive courses as part of their “first-year” curriculum: civil procedure, contracts, criminal law and procedure, property, and torts. These substantive courses are complimented by skill-based courses covering legal research, writing, and analysis. Throughout the curriculum, Florida Coastal Law emphasizes a practical approach to studying the law.
In their upper-level semesters, all students are also required to take substantive courses in constitutional law, criminal procedure, evidence, professional responsibility, business associations, family law, and trusts and estates. All students must take either a course pre-trial litigation drafting or transactional drafting. On the practical side, students are required to complete six additional hours of experiential education courses as well as complete the advanced legal writing requirement. In order to prepare to pass the bar exam, all students take an additional six credits of bar preparation courses.
Florida Coastal Law also offer students four certification programs that allow students to work towards specialization in a certain practice areas. These include civil practice, criminal practice, family law, and social justice advocacy. Each certification requires a slate of courses to help students master the practice area.
In Florida Coastal Law’s accelerated J.D. program, students begin their studies in the spring team and complete the program in two calendar year by utilizing summer sessions and additional course hours per semester. The accelerated J.D. reduces the cost of living expenses as well as allows students to begin their careers sooner.
Florida Coastal Law offers the first completely virtual Master of Law (LL.M) program for foreign educated attorneys in the country. The completely online program is focused on introducing foreign attorneys to the principles of the American legal system in virtual, live classes. The program requires 26 credit hours of required courses. The program includes bar preparation courses for students who wish to sit for a bar exam in the United States. The LL.M program is also the most affordable accredited LL.M in the country.
Florida Coastal Law has also partnered with Jacksonville University to offer its students a unique “3+3” degree. Students who meet the eligibility requirements can use their last year of undergraduate studies to begin studying law at Florida Coastal Law. This program allows students to earn both degrees in a total of six years. Participants in the program must be accepted into the law program and meet additional eligibility requirements.
Also in conjunction with Jacksonville University, Florida Coastal Law offer two joint degrees that pair the Juris Doctor with either an M.B.A. or a Master of Public Policy degree from Jacksonville University. In a joint degree program, law students complete their first year curriculum and then study concurrently with their second degree. This approach allows certain credits to be shared between programs to save time on completing both degrees. Students also benefit from an interdisciplinary approach to the study of law.
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent career placement data, over 80% of all graduates of Florida Coastal Law are employed within 10 months of graduation most in long-term, full-time employment. Of those employed, 94% find careers that either requires a law license or prefers a Juris Doctor degree. Nearly 40% of all employed graduates opted for a career in law firms with less than 25 attorneys. In total, law firms accounted for 60% of all graduates’ first career choice. A quarter of graduates pursued careers in either government offices or the public interest sector. Most graduates–over 73%–remained in Florida to begin their professional careers.
The Florida Coastal Law Center for Professional Development (CPD) is student-centered. The CPD partners with students to both help design their career paths, build professional skills, and accomplish their professional goals. All students receive individual counseling where the CPD staffs working one-on-one to help students build interview skills, refine their professional resumes, and teach job search strategies. The CPD offers a range of job resources including its extensive online job database as well as in-person resources. The CPD manages the school’s on-campus interview program as well as resume drops throughout the year.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
In order to prepare for the practice of law, Florida Coastal Law recommends that all students complete 400 hours of legal work while in school. The curriculum is designed to help students achieve this goal as Florida Coastal Law consistently emphasizes real-world skill building throughout the academic program. All Florida Coastal Law students are required to complete at least six hours of experiential learning (and up to as many as 15 credit hours).
To satisfy this requirement, Florida Coastal Law students may opt to participate in a clinical program, an externship, or take one of the many simulation courses offered each semester. The school’s “practitioner clinic” allows students to practice law on real pro bono cases by assisting lawyers. Students work with real clients–the underserved community of Jacksonville –in a variety of legal matters ranging from veterans benefits to estate planning. In lieu of a clinic, Florida Coastal Law also offers an extensive externship program where students spend time working in a judicial or non-judicial setting. In non-judicial settings, students learn while working alongside government, non–profit, or corporate attorneys.
Florida Coastal Law offers a range of simulation courses each semester that emphasize skill-building through simulated legal issues. Students work closely with their professors and classmates to solve complex legal problems as they learn to apply their academic studies to real-world problems.
While Florida Coastal Law does require residential coursework for its Juris Doctor program, it does offer a fully online LL.M program for international students.
Florida Coastal Law is student-centered. The entire law school is committed to ensuring the success of students in the classroom, on the bar exam, and during their professional careers. Florida Coastal Law helps students build their character and professionalism through a range of programming. All students have access to counseling and wellness services. Despite the small student body, Florida Coastal Law supports a range of student organizations and a deep commitment to serving the local community through pro bono efforts.
Set in Jacksonville, Florida–one of the largest cities in the State–students at Florida Coastal Law enjoy all the amenities of big city life with easy access to Florida’s beautiful northern beaches. The city offers big city life at small town prices with housing that is notably affordable. The law school is less than 30 minutes away from the many beach towns outside the city. Jacksonville’s thriving downtown set around the river walk that lines the St. John’s River. Jacksonville offers professional sports, a thriving arts community, and unique dining throughout the city. Students at Florida Coastal Law enjoy a big city experience at a tremendous value.