The Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law (LMU Law) was founded in 2008 making it one of the newest law schools in the country. Since 2009, graduates have been permitted to sit for the Tennessee bar exam. After a prolonged legal fight with the American Bar Association, LMU Law received full accreditation from the ABA in 2019 allowing students to now sit for any bar exam in the country. Despite being a new school, LMU Law’s graduates have had tremendous success in both passing the Tennessee bar exam as well as securing long-term, full-time careers. While the main campus of the university is located in Harrogate, Tennessee, the law school is located in the heart of downtown Knoxville.
LMU Law offers two programs to earn a Juris Doctor degree: a full-time, three-year program and a flex-time program that may be completed in as many as seven years. The full-time program requires 30 years of coursework during the first year of study including four of the traditional core courses of American legal education: civil procedure, contracts, property, and torts. The remainder of the first-year curriculum is comprised of skill-based courses in legal communications, research, and a study of the foundations of the legal system. During their second and third years, students are required to complete a number of additional substantive courses: business associations, constitutional law and procedure, criminal law, domestic relations, evidence, professional responsibility, secured transactions, and estate planning. These substantive courses are complemented by additional semesters of legal research and communication. LMU Law also requires all students to complete courses covering bar exam skills. These required courses at LMU Law leave less than 30 credit hours for elective courses.
The flex-time program at LMU is designed to be notably flexible for students who have commitments outside of their legal education. Students complete 6 to 12 credits each semester until they have satisfied all the requirements for graduation. The first-year curriculum is a recommended 18 hours of coursework comprised of two foundational courses (civil procedure and torts) along with the same skill-based courses as full-time students. Students complete the same additional substantive courses in subsequent semesters. The flex program does require students to complete traditional second-year courses before moving to more advanced upper-level courses.
In planning their elective courses (23 hours of credit), all students are required to complete substantive courses to prepare for their professional careers, a course to fulfill the upper-level writing requirement, and three courses to satisfy the requirement for experiential education.
Career and Career Placement
Despite being one of the newest law schools in the country, LMU Law’s graduates have excelled in securing professional careers after graduation. Based on the most recent employment outcome data, over 83% of all graduates are employed within 10 months of graduation. Furthermore, of those employed, almost 90% find careers that either requires a law license or prefers a Juris Doctor degree. Over 62% of graduates choose small or solo law firms immediately upon graduation. The number of students (17%) who opt for solo law firm work is a reflection of the school’s emphasis on practical training. Other career choices included the business sector (13%), government offices (9%), and the public interest sector (5%). Almost 75% of all graduates opt to remain in the state of Tennessee to begin their professional careers.
The Office of Career Services (OCS) at LMU Law partners with its students throughout the lifetime of their careers. The OCS works as a bridge to connect students and alumni with employers. For students, the OCS offers traditional career counseling to help students define their professional goals and prepare their professional profiles. Students may also take advantage of yearlong professional development programming that introduces students to etiquette, resume writing, and a host of other professional skills. All students have access to the OCS’ online and physical library of career-related resources and job postings.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
To gain practical experience, students at LMU Law participate in either simulation courses or an external field placement. In simulations, students learn how to practically apply their academic lessons in courses such as trial advocacy or negotiation. Of note, LMU Law offers a simulation class in law office management which teaches students how to successfully manager their own solo law practice. LMU Law’s externship program allows students to gain practical experience while working under the supervision of a practicing attorney in the local legal community.
While LMU Law does not at this time offer a distance education program, their flex-degree path offers students the opportunity to earn their J.D. in as few as six hours per semester. Students also have access to previous lectures through an online portal thanks to the school’s commitment to technology and innovative learning.
Student life at LMU Law is largely governed by the school’s student bar association that is comprised of law student leaders who help enhance the quality of student-life through programming, student organizations, and other events to help students build relationships and enjoy life outside the classroom. Despite the small student body, the law school supports dozens of student organizations that reflect the many passions of the student body. The law school also supports students through its academic and bar exam success programs as well as student services that offer health and wellness programs to all law students.
LMU Law is located in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, over 60 miles from the university’s main campus. The law school resides in a renovated, historic building that places students minutes away from the state’s legislative and judicial complex as well as in the heart of the city’s thriving downtown. In a short walk to the city’s riverfront, students at LMU Law pass the Tennessee Court of Appeals, the U.S. Courthouse, and the Knox County Circuit Court. The law school is also minutes away from the city’s convention center adjacent to the World’s Fair Park–one of the highlights of downtown Knoxville. With abundant housing throughout the metropolitan area, students enjoy one of the regions most dynamic cities at an affordable cost.