The Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law (Chase Law) was founded towards the end of the 19th century and named for one of the country’s most prominent attorneys and outspoken advocates for African-Americans. President Abraham Lincoln later appointed Chase as the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Like many other law schools, the law school began in a local Cincinnati YMCA to educate working-class citizens in part-time, evening classes. In 1959, the school received accreditation from the American Bar Association and currently offers both day and evening programs. Chase Law has produced a number of notable jurists over its long history including Michelle M. Keller, justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court.
The Juris Doctor degree at Chase Law requires 90 hours of coursework which can be earned either through a full or part-time program. The part-time program offers both an evening and daytime program. The traditional first-year curriculum mixes practical, skill-based classes–a point of emphasis at Chase Law–with four core academic subjects: civil procedure, contract, property, and torts. All core subjects are two-semester courses. In terms of skill-based courses, students are introduced to the fundamental skills of legal analysis, problem-solving, research, and writing.
After completing the foundational year courses, Chase Law students are required to complete three additional core academic courses–constitutional law, criminal law, and evidence–as well as complete a slate of course that commonly appear on most state bar exams. Students mix electives into the final semesters to meet their academic goals. All students must complete a substantial writing project (combining both research and drafting), earn six hours of experiential education credits, as well as complete 50 hours of pro bono service.
Chase Law offers students a concentration option in employment and labor law or two, more formal certification programs in either advocacy or transactional law. The concentration provides suggested coursework for students to understand the fundamental concepts of the practice area. The certificates require students to demonstrate additional proficiency in the practice area. Certificates appear on graduates’ transcripts to indicate their mastery of the subject area.
Chase Law is also home to the “Lunsford Academy”–a unique curricular center that blends technology and business to offer students a unique honors program that leans heavily on technology, qualitative methods, informatics while also stressing leadership principals. The academy requires a combination of academic requirements as well as practical experiences.
For students educated outside the United States, Chase Law offers a Master of Laws (LL.M) program focused on the American legal system. In the LL.M, foreign-educated attorneys are immersed in the concepts and practice of law in the United States over the course of one academic year. All students complete an introductory course covering the fundamentals of the American legal system. For the rest of their courses, students work with their academic advisor to choose courses from the Juris Doctor catalog that fit their professional goals. LL.M candidates also have the option to concentrate in a particular practice area.
For non-attorneys, Chase Law also offers a Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) program that requires 30 hours of coursework. M.L.S. students attend courses with Juris Doctor students (but are graded as graduate not law students). The program is intended to equip professionals in various careers with a solid foundation in the legal process. The program focuses on highly litigious, heavily regulated industries such as labor law, intellectual property, and criminal justice.
Career and Career Placement
Based on employment outcomes from the most recent graduating classes, over 86% of all graduates of Chase Law are employed within 10 months of graduation with 93% of those employed finding long-term, full-time careers. Of those employed, 72% entered careers that required a law license while 21% found careers that preferred a Juris Doctor degree. Over one-third of employed graduates chose law firms with less than 25 attorneys while a quarter of graduates opted for careers in the business sector. Another quarter of graduates chose careers in government offices (9%) or in the public interest sector (15%). An impressive 10% of graduates were able to secure judicial clerkships in either the federal or state courts. Most students chose to begin their professional careers in either Kentucky (43%) or Ohio (39%).
At Chase Law, the Career Development Office (CDO) is committed to a singular goal for all students–passing the bar exam and beginning the practice of law. To help students achieve this goal, the CDO works with students in individual counseling, programs resume and interview skill sessions, and introduces students to the variety of legal job opportunities through alumni connections and career fairs. The CDO administers the school’s on-campus interview where students often make their first impression on local and regional employers. Chase Law also all students extensive bar preparation opportunities both in and out of the classroom. A full bar-prep course is part of every student’s curricular program as well as bar focused study groups and designated director for bar support.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
To build practical skills, Chase Law offers students the opportunity to participate in their legal clinics, work in an external legal office, or complete pro bono service. The clinical program teaches students every skill required in the practice of law–from interviewing new clients to representing them in court–while working with real clients under the supervision of practicing faculty members. The clinical program offers five different practice areas. The law school’s close proximity to Cincinnati affords students access to the state’s legal center and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The externship program at Chase Law offers additional legal fields for students to learn to put their academic lessons into practice. Students are placed in a broad array of legal offices from judicial chambers to athletic departments to corporate counsel offices. In these externships, students work with practicing attorneys as they learn the real-world demands of practicing law.
All students at Chase Law are required to complete 50 hours of pro bono service. The law school offers a number of service programs where students may apply their legal skills to help the surrounding community.
At this time, Chase Law requires residential coursework for its degree programs.
Set in the most northern area of Kentucky between the Ohio and Licking Rivers, Chase Law is a campus committed to student success in a beautiful, rural setting. The law school offers tremendous resources to ensure that students succeed in their academic courses, on the bar exam, and outside the classroom as well. The school boasts dozens of active student organizations as well as some of the most competitive moot court and mock trial teams in the country. Chase Law also supports its students in a number of competitive legal writing competitions. Both the student organization and the school in general host wellness programs year-round that introduce students to various ways to live a balanced life as students and as lawyers.
While technically in the city of Highland Heights, Northern Kentucky University is a city onto itself. The law school is in the heart of the main campus, conveniently located to the school’s recreation center, fine arts center, and planetarium. The small town surrounding the campus offers students a variety of affordable housing and dining options. Just eight miles to the north is the metropolis of Cincinnati which offers additional housing options as well as all the amenities of a major city from professional sporting events, a thriving arts community, and the city’s vibrant river walk along the Ohio River. With all the charms of a small-town university and the excitement of big city, Chase Law truly offers the best of both worlds.