With a history that stretches over 110 years, the Oklahoma City University School of Law (Oklahoma City Law) has been a leader in providing a flexible path towards a law degree for most of its history. The school’s tradition of providing part-time and evening courses is due to the demand for a legal education from professionals in other areas especially the oil and gas industry. Although the school of law spent most of its history on the main campus of the university, it moved to a stunning downtown campus in 2015. This move placed Oklahoma City Law in the heart of the state’s legal and financial center. In its long history, Oklahoma City Law has educated a number of prominent politicians and judges including the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma, the Honorable James R. Winchester.
Oklahoma City Law’s Juris Doctor program is designed to be a flexible program to accommodate the varied needs of all students. The degree requires 90 hours of coursework that includes all six of the core courses of the traditional American legal education: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. With the exception of constitutional law, the other five courses make up the traditional first-year curriculum along with skill-based courses in legal analysis, research, and writing. Along with constitutional law, students in their second year take substantive courses in evidence, the legislative and regulatory process, and the legal profession. All students complete two additional skill-based courses in their second year. All students are required to complete a two-semester course in advanced bar studies that prepares them to pass the bar exam.
The part-time curriculum at Oklahoma City Law requires the same core courses although students spend their first four semester completing the first year program. Students complete most of their required curriculum during their third year before finishing out the degree program with electives.
Whether full or part-time, all students must also complete a course in corporations as well as four additional core courses (unless they earn a G.P.A. of 2.9 or higher). All students must also complete an upper-level writing requirement and six credit hours of experiential learning.
In selecting their elective courses, Oklahoma City Law students may opt to earn an additional certification in one of the eight practice areas: American Indian Law, dispute resolution, energy law, commercial law, health law, homeland security law, public law, or wills, trusts, and estates. Each certification prescribes additional coursework for students to master the practice area. To earn a certificate, students must maintain a minimum G.P.A. in these prescribed courses. Students are also encouraged to focus their upper-level writing requirement on the practice area to further deepen their command of the subject matter.
Oklahoma City Law offers a Master of Law (LL.M) focused in American Law for students who earned their first law degree outside the United States. The LL.M program requires 24 hours of coursework with only two required courses: a course covering the American Legal system and a course covering legal research and writing. All LL.M students work with an academic advisor to plan the remainder of the course selections to meet their academic and professional goals.
Juris Doctor candidates also have the option of pairing their law degree with another professional degree from one of three other colleges at Oklahoma City University as part of a joint degree program. Students may concurrently study for an M.B.A., a Master of Public Administration, or a Master of Art in Non-Profit Leadership. In each of these joint degree programs, credits from the non-law degree count towards the Juris Doctor degree and vice versa. This allow students to complete both programs in less time while also diversifying their perspectives. Joint degrees also allow students to be more competitive in the increasingly interdisciplinary practice of law.
Undergraduate students who have completed 90 hours of prelaw work may also apply for the law school’s “3+3” program that offers them accelerated entry into the Juris Doctor program. In this program, students spend their last year of their undergraduate program in the first year of law school. This approach allows students to earn both degrees in a total of six years.
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent career data, almost 83% of all graduates of Oklahoma City Law are employed within 10 months of graduation most of which begin careers that either requires a law license (70%) or prefer a Juris Doctor degree (8%). Over 93% of employed students find long-term, full-time careers upon graduation. Small and solo law firms dominated the career choices for graduates with over half of graduates opting for careers in law firms with less than 25 people. Another 10% of graduates opted for mid-sized law firms. In all, law firm work accounted for 60% of all graduates’ first careers. Substantial percentages of graduates also opted for careers in either government offices (16%) or in the public interest sector (11%). Over 13% of graduates found work in the business sector. Over 80% of graduates remain in Oklahoma to begin their law careers while almost 16% chose Texas.
The Oklahoma City Law Law Career Services office (LCS) provides all law students with an array of services to help secure meaningful employment that meets students’ professional goals. The heart of LCS’s services is one-on-one counseling with their team of career advisors. In these counseling sessions, students learn networking strategies, tips for improving resumes and interview skills, how to prepare for the bar application, and tools for determining their best career fit. In addition to counseling, the LCS also hosts career fairs that introduce students to a wide range of career opportunities. The LCS also participates in a number of specialized recruitment programs aimed at increasing interest in pro bono, public interest, and government work. The LCS also organizes all on-campus interviews for employers who want to hire Oklahoma Law students.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
All Oklahoma Law students are required to complete a clinical or externship program, six hours of experiential coursework, or a combination of the two. In terms of clinics, Oklahoma City Law houses three clinics that focus on American Indian estate planning, the Oklahoma Innocence clinic, and a research clinic. In all clinics, students engage with real clients while being supervised by faculty experts. This experience allows students to master the fundamental skills of client advocacy and professionalism. The school’s externship program offers a similar experience through 80 unique external field placements where students learn from working alongside practicing attorneys. With its central location in the heart of Oklahoma’s legal community, students take advantage of externship in a range of government and judicial offices as well as corporate and non-profit legal departments.
Oklahoma City Law offers skill-based, experiential courses every semester that focus on translating academic skills into real-world legal skills. In these skill-based courses, students learn through simulated legal work with practicing experts as their instructors. These classes help students master more complex legal problems while also helping them to succeed in their clinical or externship program.
At this time, Oklahoma City Law does not offer a distance education program.
At Oklahoma City Law, students encounter a campus that is engaged on many levels. The law school offers students countless avenues to build their leadership skills, network with their classmates, deepen their understanding of the law’s impact in the world, and nurture their lives outside of the classroom. The law school hosts a wide range of student organizations that bring students together to celebrate their common backgrounds, express their viewpoints, or share their common interests. Oklahoma City Law also boats one of the most active and accomplished moot court and mock trial programs in the country. Students also take advantage of the school’s prime location to network with the greater legal community through a range of school-sponsored events. Oklahoma City Law also provides a comprehensive wellness program for all students that focuses on their physical, mental, and financial health.
Set in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City, students at the law school enjoy life in one of America’s largest cities (25th in total population) with one of the most affordable costs of living. The law school is located in the Midtown area with an impressive selection of eateries, coffee shops, and housing options within walking distance of campus. The city’s downtown complex is only one mile away. Slightly further is the Oklahoma River, the home of the Regatta Park, and the very active riverfront. Oklahoma City offers students all the amenities of big city life from professional sports to countless museums and nightlife. In all, Oklahoma City Law is a downtown law school in one the country’s most thriving and affordable big cities.