Founded in 1947 as part of Louisiana’s unique Southern University–the only historically black college system in the United States–the Southern University Law Center (SULC) is only the second public law school in the state of Louisiana. The Law Center was founded after an African-American was denied entry into the LSU Law School due to his race. After losing in court, the State founded the Law Center to provide a law school for African-American students. To this day, SULC remains the most diverse law school in the state with over 60% of all students identifying as minorities. The law school has graduated over 2,500 students including former Louisiana Governor Mike Foster and Kip Holden, former Mayor of Baton Rouge.
The Juris Doctor program at SULC has three tracks: a full-time program or a part-time program with an option for either day or evening classes. This makes the program exceptionally flexible for students with additional responsibilities who still wish to earn their law degree. Like most Louisiana law schools, the degree program at SULC also covers both common law and the unique civil law system of Louisiana. For full-time students, their first-year curriculum includes courses in civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, family law, property, and torts. Students also study the civil law subjects of civil property and obligations. These substantive courses are coupled with multiple courses covering various fundamental practical skills including legal analysis, research, and writing. All students complete a two-semester course on the legal process.
In their second year, J.D. candidates complete additional substantive courses covering constitutional law, criminal procedure, evidence, professional responsibility, and sale & lease. Students continue their study of practical skills with courses covering advanced legal writing and trial advocacy. All students complete a study of Louisiana’s civil procedure. The final year of the traditional J.D. program, includes additional required courses in business entities, commercial paper, conflict of laws, federal civil procedure, security devices, and estates. All SULC students complete a clinical program in their final semester as a capstone of their practical skills. The degree program leaves only 11 to 12 hours of electives for students to choose. The focus of SULC’s program is preparing students for the bar exam and to build a solid foundation to practice law in the state of Louisiana.
Part-time students–whether day or evening–complete the same slate of required courses although the program generally takes four years to complete including three summer sessions where students take three to five hours of courses.
Both full and part-time students may also earn a certification as part of their Juris Doctor program by focusing their elective options on one of two practice areas: public law or tax law. Both certifications require additional substantive courses as well as a minimum GPA.
Juris Doctor students may also pair their law degree with one of two other professional degrees offered by the university. The joint degree program allows students to complete both degrees in less time than pursuing them separately as the programs share credits between one another. Additionally, students study the law in conjunction with another discipline. This approach adds an interdisciplinary skill set to the legal education and distinguishes students as they seek their first jobs. At SULC, joint degree options include pairing the J.D. with a Masters in Public Administration from the Southern University Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy or an M.B.A. from the A&M College of Business.
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent employment outcome data, over 85% of all graduates of SULC are employed within 10 months of graduation. Moreover, of those employed, almost 94% are employed in long-term, full-time careers. Most students–over 70%–find careers that either requires a law license or advantage a Juris Doctor degree. A substation portion of employed graduates opts for other professional careers (roughly a quarter of all employed graduates). In terms of career choices, over a third of employed graduates found work in private law firms with small law firms of 1 to 10 attorneys being the most popular. Another 21% of SULC graduates opted for careers in government offices while 17% chose careers in the business sector. A substantial portion of graduates opted for either a career in the public interest sector or accepted a judicial clerkship (both at 10% of employed graduates). Not surprisingly, over 85% of all graduates remained in Louisiana to begin their professional careers.
The Career Services Office (CSO) at SULC works with each students to devise a strategic career plan during their first year. Students identify their professional goals, refine their interests, and create a plan to pursue their ambitions. Throughout their academic careers, the CSO helps students by engaging with them on a number of levels. The CSO helps students refine their professional documents as well as identify job positions that fit their goals. Students attend workshops to build professional skills as well as learn through the school’s experiential learning program. Finally, the CSO provides students with countless opportunities to network with alumni as well as the local legal community in Baton Rouge, the state capital.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
SULC offers its students one of the most extensive clinical programs in the country. With a dozen separate clinical programs spanning numerous practice areas, SULC students learn to practice law through a combination of real-world practice as well as close supervision by faculty experts. Each of the school’s 12 clinics functions as law firms representing the underserved community of Baton Rouge in critical areas such as disaster law, real estate and housing, and taxpayer law.
SULC’s externship also allow students to pursue external field work in a law office in the local legal community. The school’s location in the state capital of Baton Rouge provides students with a range of law offices from private practice to government offices. These externships also strengthen the law school’s connection to the larger legal community while also building student’s professional networks.
The mission of the Southern University Legal Center is to provide the highest quality education to students with diverse backgrounds. SULC is consistently ranked as one of the best law schools for its diversity. As part of the Southern University system, students are also part of the nation’s only historically black college system. This unique college system provides law students with access to Southern University’s many amenities including its own ambulatory health center that offers students a full range of health services. Students benefit from the school’s dedicated program that prepares students for academic and bar exam success.
SULC is located in Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana. The Mississippi River runs along the western border of the campus offering sweeping views of the river. The Law Center is also a short distance from the heart of downtown Baton Rouge, a thriving center with riverboat casinos and a vibrant nightlife. Housing is affordable near campus while the surrounding region offers students access to the heart of America’s unique cajun country.