Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law

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The Ohio Northern University Claude Pettit College of Law (ONU Law) was founded in 1885, the second law school in the state of Ohio. The law school has built a reputation for its affordability–it offers the lowest tuition of any private school in the Great Lakes region–and its preparation to pass the Ohio State Bar exam. In 2019, ONU Law boasted a 100% passage rate for the July exam–the highest in the state. ONU Law also guarantees all students the opportunity to work in a clinical or external field placement as the school curriculum emphasizes practical skills. ONU Law’s alumni have become state and federal judges in 15 different states. The law school has also produced the youngest attorney general in Ohio history, William Brown, as well as the current governor of the state, Michael DeWine.


The Juris Doctor program at ONU Law embodies the school’s learning objectives that include preparing students with skill-based courses as well as providing them with a firm command of the academic subjects that will most likely encounter in their professional careers and the bar exam. The program requires 90 hours of coursework of which 35 hours are prescribed as part of the first-year curriculum. In their first semesters, students take five of the six traditional courses of American legal education: civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Students also take a semester course covering the legal process as well as skill-based courses covering legal research, problem-solving, analysis, writing, and methodology. ONU Law uses a unique January semester for one two-hour course. Students may also matriculate in the summer semester which allows them to graduate sooner.

During their upper-level semesters, students are required to complete four additional substantive courses: business organizations, constitutional law, evidence, and professional responsibility. All students are required to complete at least seven hours of skills courses as well as a writing seminar course. ONU Law also offers eight certification programs that recognize students for focused work in various practice areas. Each certification requires both a selection of courses as well as experiential programs that ensure a student’s readiness to practice.

ONU Law also provides all students with a unique academic success program that ensures that all students are successful in their academic careers. The program is built around academic advising. All students are assigned an advisor who meets with students each semester for counseling and guidance. The program includes study-groups for first-year students as well as bar preparation courses during the upper-level semesters.

Additional Programs

Along with its innovative Juris Doctor program, ONU Law also offers a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree focused on Democratic Governance and Rule of Law. The one-year program is designed for students who have completed their J.D. or for international students who have completed their law degree at an international school. The program requires 24 credit hours for completion. Most students complete the program in one year of residential coursework.

J.D. candidates at ONU Law may also earn an LL.M in conjunction with the Juris Doctor as part of a dual degree program. By utilizing January and summer sessions, the program can also be completed in three years as students concentrate on LL.M curriculum for the majority of their elective courses.

Career and Career Placement

Based on the most recent employment outcomes, almost 90% of all ONU Law graduates are employed in long-term, full-time careers within 10 months of graduation. Of those employed, the substantial majority (93%) find careers that require either a law license or a Juris Doctor degree. Just under 50% of students opt for careers in traditional law firms most prominently in small law firms with less than 25 attorneys. Careers in government offices accounted for another quarter of graduates’ first career choices. Smaller percentages of students opted for a career in the business or public interest sector. Ten percent of graduates secured clerkships in federal or state courts. While the majority of students remained in Ohio to begin their careers, ONU Law alumni now work in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

ONU Law Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) works with every student to plan, prepare, and achieve each student’s professional goals. The OCPD provides career counseling services that include helping students prepare application materials, build interview skills, and tech students how to use the school’s many resources for job searches. Throughout the year, ONU Law brings employers, ONU Law alumni, and other professionals to speak about various career opportunities. The OCPD maintains multiple job posting databases and provides resource guides to help students find careers online.

Experiential Learning/Distance Education

ONU Law is committed to graduating “practice-ready” attorneys. All students are guaranteed placement in a clinical or externship program in order to build the practical skills necessary to succeed as attorneys. All students meet with the clinical director to plan their experiential learning program to meet their career goals. The clinical program has two practice areas: civil litigation and corporate transactional clinic. In the civil litigation clinic, students work with clients on a range of clinical issues such a housing, expungements, and family law issues. On the other end of the spectrum, students in the corporate transactional clinic work with non-profits and local churches on corporate matters such as tax status or filing articles of incorporation.

The externship program at ONU Law offers students 10 placement opportunities in external legal offices representing virtually ever practice area. Students spend time in a working legal offices throughout the Northern Ohio region including judicial offices, public defenders offices, and a host of government placements.

Student Life

ONU Law is one of the smallest law schools in the country with roughly 50 students per class. This makes the experience at ONU Law notably tight-knit and accessible. The law school prides itself on student access to their professors as well as their high faculty to student ratio (1 to 8). The small student is also active in their engagement with the surrounding community. The student body donates an average of 5,000 hours of pro bono work each year to the community.

The law school is located in the charming village of Ada, Ohio. The village is located roughly 90 minutes from Columbus and 2.5 hours from Ohio’s major cities of Cleveland and Cincinnati. Despite being a small village, Ada offers students a host of activities including world-class entertainment at the Freed Center for Performing Art, several art galleries, and unique dining. Each fall, Ada is home to the Harvest and Herb Festival which draws visitors from all over the region. Affordable housing options for law students is available close to the law school.

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?