Set in the historic borough of Queens, the St. John’s University School of Law (St. John’s Law) is one of New York City’s 15 law schools. Recently, graduates of St. John’s Law have one of the highest New York Bar passage rates of all 15 schools. The law school was founded in 1925 as part of the Catholic university that sits in the heart of the Queens borough adjacent to Brooklyn and Long Island. Notable alumni of St. John’s Law include politicians, state and local judges, and the former Archbishop of Philadelphia Anthony Bevilacqua.
St. John’s Law offers both a full-time and part-time curriculum for their Juris Doctor candidates. Both paths study the same first-year although part-time students take an extra year to complete their program. The core of the first-year curriculum is six core courses. Students take one semester of civil procedure, criminal law, property, and torts. Students take two semesters of constitutional law and contracts. All first-year students also take a two-semester course in legal writing which lays the groundwork for future skill-based courses.
Aside from the first-year courses, the only required course for upper-class students is professional responsibility. Additionally, the law school has identified five core electives of which students much complete at least four. These core electives build on the first-year foundation to ensure students have a solid grounding in all legal issues. After complete the core electives, students are free to chart their own curriculum. Students must complete a total of 89 credit hours including an upper-level writing requirement and six hours of experiential learning.
St. John’s Law offers several Master of Law (LL.M) programs to equip domestic and internationally trained attorneys to practice law at the highest level. St. John’s Law LL.M in Bankruptcy is a one-year graduate course of study that prepares students to practice in bankruptcy courts throughout the United States. For both domestic and international lawyers, the school’s LL.M in transnational legal practice focuses on cross-border law in a global market that increasingly forces attorneys to practice in multiple countries. Finally, for international students, St. John’s Law offers an LL.M in American Law which is intended to prepare foreign-educated students to sit for the New York Bar exam. Additionally, St. John’s Law provides an intensive four-week study in the English language and its use in the legal practice for students who need additional language skills.
Candidates for the Juris Doctor degree may also apply for one of the five joint degree programs at St. John’s University. Students are able to complete their J.D. and another professional degree concurrently by splitting coursework between the two programs. Options for joint degrees include pairing the J.D. with an M.B.A. or a Master of Health Care Administration.
Career and Career Placement
The most recent career placement statistics indicate that over 92% of St. John’s Law graduates are employed within 10 months of graduation in careers that prefer a Juris Doctor degree or require a licensed attorney. As one of the top schools in New York City for bar passage rates, St. John’s Law graduates are particularly well poised for careers in the New York City region. Just over 60% of graduates moved into traditional law firm work with large firms of 500+ attorneys and mid-sized firms of 51-100 attorneys being the most popular choices. The single most common career choice was work in a government office. Almost all graduates accepted positions in New York or neighboring New Jersey.
The Career Development Team (CDT) at St. John’s Law contains 11 professionals many of whom are alumni of St. John’s University. The staff to student ratio is one of the best in the country and allows the CDT to offer an impressive suite of services to students and alumni. Career counselors meet one-on-one with students to offer guidance on resumes, interview skills, and academic courses to bolster their employment chances. As always, St. John’s Law makes sure its student are New York bar exam prepared since this helps secure employment in the competitive New York market. The CDT also maintains an extensive list of employment postings and administers a number of career-related programs each year.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
St. John’s Law is committed to educating “practice ready” attorneys who are not only ready to pass the New York bar exam but also prepared to enter the complex, ever-changing practice of law with the skills needed to be an effective attorney. The law school houses 11 legal clinics with a notable emphasis on social justice (a nod to the school’s Catholic heritage). Students are able to spend a semester or more practicing as student-attorneys with real clients as they learn the primary skills of practicing attorneys.
St. John’s Law also has an extensive externship program which places students in law offices throughout the New York City legal community including civil and criminal law offices. Externships generally last for a semester and build practical skills as students work alongside practicing attorneys in various fields.
St. John’s Law course catalog is also full of skill-based classes to help students prepare for the practice of law.
Juris Doctor students must complete 64 of their required 89 hours in traditional, residential coursework. However, the law school’s part-time program does allow students additional semesters to complete their degree and some portion of coursework may be completed in distance learning modules.
St. John’s Law offers students a unique experience in the tight-knit community of Queens–a diverse and vibrant community approximately 12 miles from Manhattan. The law school provides students with a range of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities from student-run journals to a myriad of organizations that reflect the school’s commitment to social justice and diversity. The law school sits on the main campus of St. John’s University allowing students to enjoy the many amenities offered by the university at-large.
Queens, New York is a borough full of life. As one of the most affordable areas of New York City, the community is diverse and welcoming. The diversity also produces a range of ethnic foods that are unmatched in the city. With public transportation running through the borough, students are connected to one of the busiest and most dynamic cities in the world.