Founded in 1900, the Stetson University College of Law (Stetson Law) is the first law school in the state of Florida. The campus currently resides in the town of Gulfport, a suburb of Saint Petersburg, just a few blocks from Boca Ciega Bay. Originally located in the town of Deland, the law school moved into its new home in 1954 and currently occupies a historic hotel that was renovated to house the law school. The campus includes the Dolly & Homer Hand Law Library, a free standing library across from the main campus building that includes over 30 student study spaces. Additionally, Stetson Law opened a satellite campus in downtown Tampa in 2004. Stetson Law has one of the nation’s best programs in trial advocacy. In its long history, Stetson Law has produced several Florida Supreme Court justices, two state attorney generals, and a number of pioneers in the business sector including Roy Speer who co-founded the Home Shopping Network.
Stetson Law requires all students to complete a first-year curriculum that grounds students in the fundamental academics of American legal education: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. In their first two semesters, students also take a course covering the fundamentals of legal research and writing. In their third semester (for full time students), Stetson Law requires students to complete a course in evidence and a course in professional responsibility. Prior to graduation, students must also complete electives that satisfy the requirement for a course covering administrative law as well as one covering regulatory code. Students who pursue their J.D. following a part-time, evening program have the same requirements although they are spread across their first five semesters.
Prior to graduation, all students must also complete an upper-level writing requirement and complete six hours of experiential learning credits. Students interested in pursuing a concentration must satisfy additional academic requirements to demonstrate proficiency in a certain practice area. Stetson Law offers concentrations in the following practice areas: advocacy, business Law, elder Law, Environmental Law, international law, and social justice advocacy.
Stetson Law offers a number of additional programs targeted at both graduate and undergraduate students with varying career goals. For students who have obtained their Juris Doctor degree (or the foreign equivalent), Stetson Law offers a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree with a concentration in either advocacy, elder law, or international law. The LL.M in advocacy and elder law are taught entirely through an online program allowing students tremendous flexibility for earning their master degree. The international law LL.M is taught in residential coursework and includes a two-week intensive for foreign educated lawyers.
For non-lawyers, Stetson Law also offers a Master of Jurisprudence (M.Jur.) degree in three highly regulated practice areas: international business law, elder law, and healthcare compliance. The M.Jur program is designed for professionals in these fields who wish to compliment their skill set with a firm understanding of the law’s influence in these fields.
Stetson Law also offers it J.D. students the opportunity to earn dual degrees by pairing the J.D. with either an M.B.A. from the business school or with an LL.M in healthcare from the law school. Both dual degrees allow J.D. students to earn two degrees in less time than pursuing them separately. Dual degrees also increase a students professional profile as they move into the career sector.
Undergraduate students at Stetson University also have the opportunity to enroll in a unique 3+3 program that allows them to complete their undergraduate degree and their law degree in a total of six years. Students’ final year of undergraduate studies mirrors the first-year law curriculum.
Career and Career Placement
The statistics from the most recent graduating classes at Stetson Law indicate that almost 88% of all graduates are employed in positions requiring either a law license or preferring a Juris Doctor degree within 10 months of graduation. A number of graduates pursued other professional positions or continued their academic studies. In total, 96% of graduates were employed or pursuing additional studies after graduation. The most common career path for graduates was work in a small law firm with 1-10 attorneys. Over 20% of all graduates pursue this route. Law firm work–of any size–constituted almost 50% of all graduates first careers. Students also frequently pursued careers in the business sector (18.5%) as well as government or public sector jobs (22.5%). The State of Florida accounted for over 80% of graduates first job location.
Stetson Law’s Career and Professional Development Office (CPDO) staffs six professionals who provide a complete set of career services to students. The office encourages students to engage with their professionals as early and as often as possible. Aside from one-on-one counseling, the CPDO administers on-campus interviews, helps students network to build their professional relationship, and helps students prepare resumes and cover letters. The CPDO maintains a job bank dedicated to Stetson Law students and alumni. The CPDO also helps students with bar preparation services as well as find summer internships as they begin their professional careers.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
At Stetson Law, students have the opportunity to extend their classroom lessons into the real world through a network of over 350 clinical and externship programs. Stetson Law partners with over 60 hosting organizations throughout the region to provide students the opportunity to work on real cases representing real clients. These programs provide opportunities in a range of practice areas. All students at Stetson Law are guaranteed an opportunity to work in a clinic or externship program.
Stetson Law also offers one of the most complete selections of practice-based course offerings in the country including its highly regarded trial advocacy program. In practice-based courses, students learn the law and how to apply it to their future careers.
Stetson Law’s campus is one of the most unique in the country. Built into a renovated hotel just a few blocks from the beautiful waterfront of Boca Ciega, the law school offers modern facilities in a stunning setting. Students enjoy a wealth of co-curricular activities including one of the most successful trial advocacy and moot court programs in the country. Student organizations bring students together to work on a number of extracurricular pursuits as well as build strong personal relationships.
As part of the greater St. Petersburg/Tampa area, Stetson Law offers students living in one of Florida’s most unique and dynamic towns. The area is rich with beaches and recreational opportunities. Tampa and St. Petersburg both have a vibrant arts and entertainment community including professional sports and one of the state’s most vibrant food scenes. The area surrounding Stetson is full of affordable housing.