The history of the Florida State University College of Law (FSU Law) is steeped in the civil rights movement. After the law school at the University of Florida refused to admit an African-American student, the state opened a law school in Tallahassee at Florida A&M University, a historically black university, under the orders of Florida Supreme Court Justice B.K. Roberts. In 1966, the law school at FAMU was transferred to the administration at Florida State University and has been in continuous operation since. Students attend class in a building named for Justice Roberts. The law school today is one of the most competitive in the region and known for educating many of the political leaders of the state of Florida.
First-year students at FSU law receive instruction in the traditional six core courses of American jurisprudence: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Along with this legal foundation, students take a semester course that covers the legislative and regulatory process. Students also take a two semester course that provides a foundation in the methodology of legal writing and research.
Upper-class students at FSU Law are free to design their own academic program choosing from the school’s notably broad course offerings. Students are required to complete a course in professional responsibility as well as satisfy the requirement for an advanced writing seminar, six hours or experiential education, and 20 hours of pro bono work. FSU Law students often gravitate to the school’s noteworthy concentrations in international law, business, and environmental law.
FSU Law offers three different graduate degree alongside its Juris Doctor. For internationally educated lawyers, the law school offers a Master of Law (LL.M) for Foreign Lawyers. The one-year program provides international students with a solid foundation in the American system of jurisprudence as well as prepares them for the most common subject on American bar exams.
For domestically educated lawyers, FSU Law offers two Master of Law (LL.M) programs. The first is concentrated in environmental law; the second is concentrated on business law. Both programs require 24 hours of coursework which often includes classes in other departments to help build an academic foundation in these specialized areas. Students are also paired with a faculty member who oversees their academic progress.
For professionals whose careers intersect with the law, FSU Law offers a Juris Master program that can be completed either in-residence or online. The Juris Master program requires 30 hours of coursework and allows students to specialize in one of five key areas including FSU Law’s highly regarded environmental law program.
Juris Doctor candidates can also follow one of the nine “pathways” to a joint degree. These pathways allow students to combine their legal education with a second professional degree from other of Florida State University’s highly regarded professional schools.
Statistics from the most recent graduating classes at FSU Law indicate that over 86% of graduates are employed within 10 months of graduation in careers that either require a law license or prefer a Juris Doctor degree. As indicated by the school’s location in heart of the capital of Florida, government positions were the most common career choice for graduates (34%). Graduates chose law firms from 2-50 attorneys as their next most common career choice (30%). Almost 10% of graduates opted for careers in the business sector. The state of Florida accounted for over 80% of graduates’ first jobs.
The FSU Law Career Services and Professional Development Center has a staff of six including five full time counselors who specialize in job recruitment and placements in different practice areas. As well as administering job postings and on-campus interviews, the Career Services center provides one-on-one counseling in a collaborative approach to career placement. This collaboration also involves FSU Law’s extensive alumni pool which often serve as mentors for law students.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Students at FSU Law gain experiential learning credits through several paths including participation in the business law clinic, externships, and a dedicated public interest center. The business law clinic allows students to work with real clients on a variety of business issues. Students are supervised by faculty experts. Students learn drafting rules and work on business start-ups for with real-world entrepreneurs.
FSU Law has a direct pipeline to the state of Florida government through its externship program. In an externship, students spend a semester in a government office immersed in a particular area of the law. These externships prepare students for careers in government–the most popular career choice for FSU Law graduates. Additionally, the pro bono center provides students with opportunities to satisfy the requirement to do 20 hours of pro bono to serve the greater community.
FSU Law has a dedicated office–the Office of Student Advancement–that provides students with a range of academic and social support programs to ensure that every students succeeds while in law school. The Office focuses not only helping students succeed in the classroom but also on balancing their academic rigors with social and community work. Students participate in the many student run organizations but are also a part of the greater university that celebrates FSU’s long traditions of collegiate sports, their world renowned band, and one of the preeminent collegiate clown teams in the world.
The city of Tallahassee is a full of character. Built on some of the hilliest parts of the entire state of Florida, the city is famed for its oak-lined streets and vibrant downtown life. The coast of Florida is a short drive away offering students a chance to take in the state’s famed beaches and seafood. Housing is widely available off-campus for affordable prices. Downtown Tallahassee offers one of Florida’s most eclectic culinary scenes. Since the law school is located in downtown, the campus is also filled with the vibrant political life of the state.