Founded in 1939 when the state’s only law school refused to integrate, the North Carolina Central University School of Law (NCCU Law) has played an integral part in educating lawyers in North Carolina for over 80 years. Today, the law school still embraces its mission and prides itself on its diverse student body that includes future lawyers of all ethnicity, gender, and economic background. In 2010, NCCU law received a $2 million grant to improve the school’s technological structure. Today, the school boasts six “tech” classrooms that feature the latest technological tools for teaching law in the modern era. NCCU Law has produced a number of distinguished alumni particularly African-Americans who broke racial barriers. Alumnus Leroy Johnson became the first African-American member of the Georgia State Senate, Wanda Bryant was the first African-American woman to be an Assistant District Attorney in the 13th district of North Carolina, and Maynard Jackson was the first African-American mayor of Atlanta. North Carolina’s governor, Roy Cooper, is also an alumnus.
In order to earn a Juris Doctor degree from NCCU Law, students must complete 88 credit hours in either a full or part-time program. The full-time program takes three years to complete; the part-time program takes four years including summer sessions of evening courses. For part-time students, the traditional first-year curriculum is spread across the first four semesters of enrollment. That curriculum includes five of the traditional core courses of American Legal education: civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. In addition, students take several skill-based courses to complement their academic studies. These include a course in critical thinking as well as two semesters studying legal reasoning and analysis.
In their upper-level semesters, all NCCU Law students are required to complete a number of additional substantive courses including business associations, constitutional law, corporations, estates, evidence, income tax, professional responsibility, and sales. Students also complete additional skill-based courses covering appellate advocacy, the statutory framework of North Carolina, and a senior writing requirement. All students must complete a writing seminar as well as six hours of experiential education.
In choosing their elective program, NCCU Law offers four established certificate programs that prepare students for various practice areas. Certificates are available in Civil Rights and Constitutional Law, Dispute Resolution, Tax Law, and Justice in the Practice of Law. Each certificate program requires additional, focused coursework on the subject matter. Certificates also direct students in their writing seminar as well as their senior writing project as well as their experiential learning programs.
NCCU Law may earn a second professional degree alongside their Juris Doctor program as part of the school’s joint degree program. Typically, joint degrees take four years to complete as students study both programs concurrently allowing certain credits to count towards both programs. NCCU Law offers four joint degree options with other graduate programs at the University including an M.B.A, a Masters of Public Administration, a Master of Library Science, or a Masters of Art History. Additionally, in conjunction with Duke University, students may earn their J.D. from NCCU Law and a Masters of Public Policy from Duke. Each joint program requires admission into both programs independently.
NCCU Law students also benefit from the school’s Academic Excellence and Legal Writing programs. These programs are designed to guide and assist students in honing their academic and writing skills throughout their careers. Both programs have dedicated staff and offer students a range of services. The writing program includes mandatory coursework to help students master the fundamental skills of legal writing.
Career and Career Placement
Within 10 months of graduation, over 75% of all NCCU Law graduates are employed. Over 88% of students find careers that are full-time, long-term careers. Additionally, 85% of employed graduates work in jobs that either requires a law license or prefers a Juris Doctor degree. The most common career path for graduates was a traditional law firm which accounted for almost 40% of all graduates’ first career choice. Graduates also frequently opted for careers in government offices (26%) and the business sector (15%). Smaller percentages of graduates opted for careers in the public interest sector or in education. Three-quarters of all graduates remained in North Carolina to begin their professional careers.
The Office for Career Services (OCS) at NCCU Law works with every student to help them achieve their career goals. The OCS staff meets individually with every student to prepare and plan their career strategy. Throughout the year, the OCS offers programs and workshops to help students build and refine their professional profile. Students learn how to manage their career search with access to the school’s job database. NCCU Law also leverages its extensive alumni network to connect students with other NCCU graduates.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
At NCCU Law, students learn to practice law by taking their academic studies from the classroom to the courtroom. Under the supervision of practicing attorneys, NCCU Law students work in the school’s clinical program to represent clients in a range of legal situations. Students can choose from six practice areas including family law, intellectual property, juvenile law, low income tax payer assistance, or traditional civil and criminal work. The clinical program allows students to work with clients, prepare case interviews, master evidentiary rules, and learn to represent their clients ethically and zealously.
NCCU Law also requires all students complete an impressive range of skill-based coursework prior to graduation. These courses ensure that all graduates are well versed in the fundamental practice skills required to be a successful attorney.
At this time, NCCU Law requires residential coursework for its J.D. program. The law school, however, does have a dedicated technology program that allows for synchronous learning for some coursework (and in certain situations).
NCCU Law is one of the most diverse campuses in the country. The school and the student body celebrate this diversity as part of their strength and character. The law school is committed to increasing the education of lawyers from all backgrounds. The school’s many student organizations reflect this mission. The school is also committed to emotional and mental well being. The school’s Office of Wellness offers support for all students with a range of counseling services and programming to encourage healthy living.
Located in downtown Durham, NC, NCCU Law is located in the center of town in the midst of a rebirth. Affordable housing is located throughout the “Bull City.” Near to campus is the city’s renovated Tobacco Warehouses that have become home to bars, restaurants, and breweries. Durham is also home to the Durham Bulls baseball team–whose fields is a short distance from the law school campus. NCCU Law students also join the proud and mighty Eagles who are nationally competitive in a range of sports. Durham is a city full of music and culture. It is consistently rated as one of the best places to live in the country.