Started as the University of Puget Sound School of Law in 1972, the Seattle University School of Law (Seattle Law) became part of the private Seattle University, the largest private institution in the Pacific Northwest. Throughout its history, Seattle Law has been noteworthy for its large class sizes–once topping 450 students- when the school moved into the Norton Clapp Law Center. Today, the law school is located in the First Hill neighborhood of Seattle on the university’s east campus. Sullivan Hall is also home to the school’s legal clinics. Seattle Law has close ties to the state of Alaska and offers a generous scholarship to Alaska residents who demonstrate an aptitude for legal studies. The school’s alumni also include two former governors of Alaska.
The J.D. degree program at Seattle Law can be completed in either a full-time or part-time schedule. In either track, the first-year curriculum at Seattle Law begins in the summer session with a course on criminal law. In the following two semesters, full-time students complete four other core academic courses: civil procedure, contracts, torts, and property. Students also take a two-semester course in legal writing, one of the areas of expertise at Seattle Law. Part-time students complete the same coursework over additional semesters.
Upper-class students must complete four additional required courses: constitutional law, evidence, professional responsibility, and an additional semester covering legal writing. All students are required to complete the required coursework covering experiential learning.
All remaining coursework at Seattle Law is elective as students plan their academic schedules to prepare for their professional careers.
Seattle Law offers a wide range of additional degree and curricular programs for different types of students. For internationally educated lawyers, Seattle Law offers a Master of Laws (LL.M) in American Legal Studies. The program is designed to provide foreign educated attorneys with a solid foundational in the American legal system and qualify them to sit for the bar exam. English fluency is required.
Foreign-educated lawyers can also earn a Juris Doctor in two years from Seattle Law through an accelerated program for international students. Students complete the traditional first-year course requirements for taking a second year of mostly elective courses.
For students who have obtained their J.D., Seattle Law offers two additional LL.M programs–one focused on Native American Law and the other on Technology, Innovation, And Entrepreneurship. Both programs require 24 hours of coursework and focus students on the core concepts of these growing areas of the law.
For non-attorneys whose careers intersect with the law, Seattle Law offers several Master of Legal Studies program. These programs focus on professions that often overlap with the law: business development, tribal law, health law, risk & compliance, and innovation & technology. The program in risk & compliance is an online program.
Juris Doctor candidates may also pair their Juris Doctor degree with a degree from one of four other professional schools. These joint degree program function concurrently allowing students to study both programs at the same time and, therefore, complete the programs in less time than pursuing them separately. Joint degree options include a Juris Doctor combined with an M.B.A. or a Master in Sport Business Leadership.
Seattle Law also offers its Juris Doctor students several opportunities for immersive studies in places such as Alaska or Olympia. These programs teach students the unique laws in these environmentally and culturally sensitive areas.
Career and Career Placement
Recent graduation statistics indicate that over 85% of all graduates of Seattle Law are employed within 10 months of graduation. Of those employed, 92% are employed in positions that either requires a law license (78%) or prefer a Juris Doctor degree (14%). Half of the graduates opted for positions in traditional law firms with nearly 25% opting for small law firms with less than 10 attorneys. Another quarter of graduates opted for positions in a government office or in the public interest sector. Less common choices include roles in the business sector (14%) and judicial clerkships (9%). Most graduates of Seattle Law remained in Washington to begin their careers.
The Seattle Law Center for Professional Development (CPD) focuses on building the necessary skills in each student to help them achieve their career goals. Aside from providing one-on-one counseling, the CPD maintains a wide selection of multi-media resources as well as training modules to help students prepare resumes and cover letters. The CPD also works with students to take full advantage of Seattle Law’s bar studies program which dramatically increases students chances of passing the bar exam.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Seattle Law provides a wide range of experiential learning opportunities for all students. The law school’s Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic is considered one of the top twenty programs in the country and allows students to engage with real clients on a range of legal issues. With clinics focused on over a dozen practice areas, students are able to build real-world skills while being closely supervised by faculty experts.
Externships also allow students to build real-world skills by working in an external legal office alongside practicing attorneys. Students spend a semester working in a variety of legal offices to build professional skills and develop their professional resumes.
Seattle Law’s “Street Law” program allows law students to teach law to high school students to help build practical communication skills. The school also offers a range of classroom courses that focus on practical skills. These course teach a wide range of skills from litigation to mediation to contract drafting.
Starting 2021, Seattle Law will begin offering a unique “flex” J.D. program that allows students to earn their Juris Doctor through a combination of online and residential coursework. The program is unique and one of the only A.B.A. accredited programs of this kind in the country.
With an extremely active moot court program, four student-run journals, and a host of student organizations, the student body of Seattle Law is active and engaged. The moot court program offers students the opportunity to build their professional skills in a competitive environment. The school’s student organization engage with the surrounding community through pro bono work.
Sullivan Hall–the physical home of Seattle Law–is equipped with modern technology, a law library, and a numerous spaces designed for student study and interaction. The school also houses a mock courtroom that is used for a number of trials–both real and mock.
The surrounding area of Seattle University is one of the picturesque settings for law school in America. Halfway between Eliot Bay and Washington Lake, the campus is in full view of the majestic Pacific Northwest. Olympic National Park is short drive from Campus. Seattle’s bustling and energetic downtown (and its stunning waterfront) is a short distance from campus. The general area offers affordable housing, a vibrant city life, and endless place to explore.