Located in upstate New York, the Syracuse University College of Law (Syracuse Law) has a history dating back to the late 19th century and has produced numerous important public figures including vice-president Joe Biden. Syracuse Law is also a pioneer in distance education for lawyers. In 2019, Syracuse launched their J.D. Interactive program–the first A.B.A. approved Juris Doctor program that relies on online, interactive lessons (with a portion of in-person instruction). This program is outgrowth of Syracuse Law’s longstanding commitment to the use of technology in the practice of law. The school is also the home of the New York State Science & Technology Law Center as well as the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism. Both centers reflect the school’s focus on technology. In addition to former vice president Biden, Syracuse Law has also produced 15 federal circuit court justices and numerous New York State justices.
In their traditional J.D. program, the first-year curriculum at Syracuse law lays the foundation of legal education with six core courses: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Along with laying this academic foundation, students also begin building a practical foundation with courses covering legal research and writing as well as a course in the practice of lawyering. After completing the first-year curriculum, students must only take another semester of constitutional law, a course in professional responsibility, and a course in administrative law or statutory interpretation. Students are also required to take a final semester of legal research and writing as well as satisfy the requirement for an upper-level writing requirement.
The second and third years at Syracuse Law are mostly comprised of elective courses as students prepare for their professional careers. The law school offers 11 curriculum programs for students to follow to ensure that they are properly trained for various practice areas. Further, Syracuse Law offers three certificates of advanced study that demonstrate a graduate’s proficiency in a given subject matter. Certificates are available in the field of counterterrorism, security law, and postconflict reconstruction.
Syracuse Law also offers an advanced Master of Laws (LL.M) degree for graduates of international law schools. The LL.M program immerses foreign education attorneys in the principle concepts of American Law while also allowing students to focus one of the areas of Syracuse Law’s expertise (such as counterterrorism and national security). The LL.M program requires a year of residential coursework and is generally completed in two or three semesters.
Juris Doctor candidates at Syracuse Law also have the option to combine their J.D. education with another professional degree from one of 12 other professional schools. Joint Degrees recognize the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of the practice of law by combing legal education with another related field. Students work on both programs concurrently, allowing them additional insights into the law as well as the ability to complete both programs in less time than pursuing them separately. Joint degree programs include combining the J.D. with an M.B.A. from the business school or a Master of Science degree from the school of computer science. Syracuse Law also offers an online joint degree with the J.D. and M.B.A. programs (discussed in more detail below).’
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent statistics, over 78% of all Syracuse graduates are employed in careers either requiring a law license or preferring a Juris Doctor degree within 10 months of graduation. Careers in government offices and small law firms accounted for over 30% of all graduates. Mid-sized law firms (11-50 attorneys) and careers in the public sector were also popular choices. Over 15% of Syracuse graduates secured judicial clerkships after graduation. Almost 60% of graduates remained in New York to begin their careers.
Syracuse Law’s Career Service Center (CSC) provides student with professional counselors who help students develop and effectuate a career strategy. The CSC also provides students a host of programs that help them build their professional networks. Students at Syracuse Law are able to shadow practicing attorneys in various careers. The CSC also work individually with students to groom their resumes and build interview skills. Syracuse Law also maintains a judicial internship program that apprises students of opportunities to clerk for state and local judges.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
At Syracuse Law, students learn the practical skills necessary to be a successful lawyer through experiential coursework, the school’s clinical program, and external field placements. With over 50 courses that are experiential in design, Syracuse Law offers one of the most robust classroom programs for learning the practice of law. The course catalog covers all practice areas and introduces students to various subjects and jurisdictions where they are likely to practice law.
In the clinical program, law students represent clients from central New York through the school’s eight in-house legal clinics. The clinics cover a wide array of practice areas which allows students to work with clients on a number of legal issues while under close supervision of faculty practitioners. The faculty is able to provide frequent and immediate feedback as students learn the fundamentals of client representation.
External field placements–also known as externships–function similar to the in-house clinic experience but allow students to venture into the greater legal community to work in a law office. Students work in judicial, government, and even corporate law offices where they learn the skills necessary to succeed in their careers. While most externships are located around the Syracuse area, a number of placements allow students to experience other legal markets.
Syracuse Law is a pioneer in distance education for lawyers. The school’s J.D. Interactive program is the first of its kind in the country and allows students to earn a Juris Doctor degree through almost an entirely online curriculum. Students learn through a mixture of self-guided study and live, digital classes where they can interact with professors. The program also affords students opportunity for experiential education guidance in their local area.
The J.D. Interactive Degree may also be paired with an online M.B.A. for a unique online joint degree program.
Located directly across the street from the Carrier Dome–where the school’s famed Orangemen play basketball–Syracuse Law is fully integrated into one of the most historic campuses in the country. The law school is housed in Dineen Hall which was built in 2010 and provides over 200,000 square feet of space for the entire law school that includes a large law library, technology-enhanced classrooms, and a number of student study spaces. The law school has a dedicated office for student affairs that oversees all student organizations, student-run journals, and provides students with a range of health and wellness services.
In the town of Syracuse, students enjoy one of the most unique places for graduate schools. One of the most important towns in the region, Syracuse is surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of mid-state New York. Lake Ontario is a short drive to the North while New York City is four hours away. Syracuse offers students affordable housing, one of the most unique culinary scenes in the country, and quick access to some of the most beautiful forests in the country.