Founded in 2004, the Liberty University School of Law (Liberty Law) has quickly established its reputation through strong bar passage rates and employment outcomes. Since 2013, the law school has thrice had the highest bar passage rates in the state of Virginia including a 100% passage rate on the February 2013 bar exam. Liberty University is an evangelical Christian school and the law school reflects the mission of the school to educate lawyers grounded not only in the law but also their Christian faith. The curriculum reflects that mission often emphasizing the Christian roots of the legal system.
The Juris Doctor program at Liberty Law requires 90 hours of coursework–a blend of traditional academic courses and skill-based programs. Over two-thirds of the curriculum is comprised of required courses. In their first year, students are exposed to the foundational courses of the American legal system: civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Students also take an introductory course in the foundations of the legal system that explores the religious and moral underpinnings of the law. Students begin building their practical skills with a two-semester course covering the essential skills of lawyering. In their second year, students complete another roughly 30 hours of required course work including business associations, constitutional law, criminal procedure, evidence, professional responsibility, and taxation. Students skill-based learning with two additional semesters focused on practical skills. In their final year, students complete a course in estate planning and finish their final two courses in practical skills as well as select their elective programs.
To help shape students’ elective choices, Liberty Law has designed 12 concentration areas that help students ensure they have the academic foundation to succeed in their professional careers. These concentrations guide students in the upper-level course selections but are not required.
In addition to its residential Juris Doctor program, Liberty Law offers a number of online programs targeted at both lawyers and non-lawyers. For attorneys, Liberty Law offers a Master of Laws (LL.M) in international legal studies. The LL.M program requires 24 hours of online coursework. Students in the LL.M program complete a range of academic work that exposes them to the underpinnings of comparative law while preparing them to practice in the increasingly global legal profession.
Liberty University itself also confers an online Juris Master degree in three practice areas: compliance, American legal studies, and international legal studies. This program prepares students who careers are intertwined with the law. Students complete a general background in the legal system before taking courses central to their concentration.
After completing their first-year program, Juris Doctor candidates at Liberty Law may pursue a dual degree with one of the university’s other professional schools. Students may pair the legal studies with an M.B.A.m a Master or Doctorate from the school of education, a Master of Public Policy, a Master of Arts in History, or a Master in Religion. By working on both degrees concurrently, students are able to share some credits between both programs as well as gain additional insights into their academic studies.
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent employment outcome data, over 94% of graduates of Liberty Law are employed within 10 months of graduation in long term, full-time careers. Of those employed, 98% are employed in careers that require a law license (90%) or prefer a Juris Doctor degree (8%). Just under half of the employed graduates opted for work in law firms with small law firms being the most popular choice (41.5%). Another 35% of graduates found careers in government offices or in the public interest sector. Smaller percentages of graduates chose careers in the business sector (10%) or secured judicial clerkships (6%). Although Liberty Law has a reputation for its success on the Virginia bar exam, less than 40% of students remain in the state to begin their professional careers.
The Liberty Law Center for Career & Professional Development (CCPD) works will all students and alumni to support their transition from the classroom to their professional lives. The CCPD provides career coaching, resume review, and various workshops aimed to prepare to succeed in their job search and their eventual careers. The CCPD maintains a dedicated resource room that offers a broad array of career-related resources to help students narrow their career options and understand the many careers available to lawyers.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Liberty Law requires all students to complete six semesters of a skill-based class that covers the practical skills of practicing law. In these classes, students master research, writing, speaking, and legal thinking. Students also learn through the school’s externship program. The externship offers students the opportunity to put their legal skills into practice through a field placement in five different types of legal offices. During their externships, students work alongside other practicing attorneys as they learn to transfer their classroom knowledge into the actual practice of law.
Liberty Law does house a legal clinic focused on intellectual property issues. The clinic serves businesses and ministries who need legal assistance with issues of trademarks and copyrights. Students engage directly with clients under the supervision of practicing attorneys.
Liberty Law students also gain practical experience through a number of co-curricular programs including the school’s law journal, the competitive trial advocacy and moot court teams, and the school’s pro bono program that offers legal and other assistance to those in need.
First and foremost, Liberty Law is a law school grounded in its Evangelical Christian faith. The law is taught from a Christian worldview and the student body is comprised of students who largely share that faith. The law school supports a range of student organizations as well as offering students the opportunity to work on the student run journal. Liberty Law requires students to abide by an honor code as well as a strict dress code. Students also take advantage of the many student activities and amenities offered by the university.
Liberty Law school sits on the school’s main campus outside of Lynchburg, Virginia nestled in the middle portion of the Appalachian mountains. The surrounding community offers students a quaint setting with lots of amenities in the active downtown. Housing is available on and off-campus. Students enjoy the beauty of the James River that flows through town and the areas many trails and nature parks.