Founded almost 100 years ago, the University of Akron School of Law (Akron Law) has been educating lawyers in the city of Akron, part of the greater Cleveland metropolitan area although Akron itself has a population of over 700,000 people. Originally an independent law school when founded, the Akron Law became part of the private University of Akron in 1959. Today, the law school is located in Northern Akron on the main campus of the university just a few minutes from the downtown area. Akron Law’s graduates have gone to become distinguished members of the federal judiciary as well as civic leaders such as former Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic and Ohio congresswoman Betty Sutton.
Akron Law offers a Juris Doctor degree that can be obtained either through a full-time or part-time track. Both tracks require the same coursework over different time periods. In the first year curriculum, students take core courses in civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. To build practical skills, these academic courses are married with a two semester course in legal analysis, research, and writing as well as single semester courses in problem solving and legislation & regulation. During their second year, students are required to take two semesters of constitutional law, a course in evidence, and a course in professional responsibility. On the practical side, students complete a semester study of legal drafting as well as a course covering substantial skills. In their final semesters, students complete a course in advanced legal research, a major writing requirement, and satisfy Akron Law’s requirement for pro bono service. Part-time students follow the same requirements but over the course of eight semesters rather than six.
Akron Law J.D. candidates are also strongly suggested to take 21 hours of “bar track” courses. These courses, while not required, are essential subjects that are covered on almost all bar exams including the state of Ohio. Students whose G.P.A. falls below a certain minimum are required to take additional courses until their G.P.A. is raised above a 3.0.
In planning their elective choices, Akron Law offers students nine different areas of study that not only offer a course of study but also experiential suggestions as well as co-curricular opportunities. For example, students who focus on the advocacy program take upper-level courses in trial and appellate work as well as alternative dispute resolution. They are also encouraged to participate in the school’s unique summer trial academy program as well as the school’s legal clinics. This focus ensures that students are academically and practically prepared in their chosen professional careers. Students may also work to earn one of six certifications offered by Akron law. The certification process involves a mix of academic and skill-based lessons to certify that a graduate is prepared to succeed in a given practice area.
Aside from their Juris Doctor degree, Akron Law offers students a number of additional degrees targeted at a variety of students. For students who have already earned this Juris Doctor degree, Akron Law offers a one-year Master of Law degree focused on intellectual property. The law school is home to a dedicated center focused on the study of intellectual property law that offers students a highly regarded faculty as well as many opportunities to gain practical experience.
Foreign law graduates also have the option to earn their Juris Doctor degree through an accelerated program that can be completed in only two years. This program allows students who have already completed their law degree in an international law school to transfer up to 29 credit hours. The advantage of earning a J.D. is that all 50 states recognize the degree in sitting for the bar exam while only a handful accept the LL.M degree. The reduced number of hours required for the degree also makes Akron Law’s program exceptionally affordable for international students.
J.D. candidates at Akron Law may also pursue a joint degree program that allows them to earn a second professional degree concurrently with their legal program. J.D. candidates who want to pursue a career in intellectual property may combine their J.D. with an LL.M program in the subject. This combination adds another year to the coursework but prepares students for a successful career in this practice area and leverages the law school’s extensive resources. Akron Law also offers a joint degree in business, finance (including taxation), or applied politics for students who want an interdisciplinary approach to their legal education.
Non-attorneys who work in fields that overlap with the law may pursue a Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.) through Akron Law’s flexible program. The M.S.L. may be completed in one year of coursework or over several years through a part-time schedule. In either the case, the M.S.L. program offers students a solid foundation in the core concepts of the legal system that looks much like the first-year curriculum of the J.D. program. Students also work with academic advisors to select electives that best cover their own career paths.
Undergraduate students at Akron Law may participate in the school’s “3+3” program that allows motivated students to complete both their undergraduate and law degrees in six years. Students use their final year of undergraduate studies to complete their first-year law school curriculum. The program is highly selective and requires students to have an exceptional GPA and LSAT score for admission to the program.
Careers and Career Placement
Within 10 months of graduation, over 93% of all Akron Law graduates are employed in long term careers. Of those employed, 94% find careers that either requires a law license or prefer a Juris Doctor degree. Less than half of the employed graduates chose traditional law firm work (43%). Small law firm work (1 to 10 attorneys) accounted for almost 25% of all graduates’ first career choice. Careers in the business sector also accounted for over 25% of all graduates while careers in government offices of the public interest sector accounted for another 15% of graduates. Over 90% of all graduates began their professional careers in either Ohio or nearby Pennsylvania.
The Career Services Office (CSO) at Akron Law serves the small student-body with a staff of two professionals who provide students with a full range of career services. The CSO emphasizes the preparation phase of the career search to broaden students’ mindset for career options. The CSO works with each student to prepare a professional, legal resume as well as hone interview and correspondence skills. The CSO also provides a number of programs and social events where students can build their professional networks.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
At Akron Law, students learn to practice law through the school’s clinical program, through placement in an externship, and through a unique summer trial academy that emphasizes courtroom skills. Akron Law’s clinical program dovetails with many of the school’s academic strengths such as the unique trademark clinic where law students work with real clients to protect their intellectual property under the supervision of licensed trademark attorneys. The clinical program allows students to work with real clients in a variety of capacities including litigation and transactional fields.
The externship program at Akron Law offers students external field placement in six different practice areas of the law ranging from work in judicial or government offices to work in corporate business offices and non-profit centers. In externships, all students work alongside practicing attorneys and judges as they build not only their practical skills but their professional networks. Students earn credit hours for each semester of an externship.
Each summer, Akron Law hosts a summer trial academy where students can take part in a mock trial from start to finish. Working through this process under the supervision of faculty experts, allow students to build critical skills in the safety of mock courtroom. This experience is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to apply the lessons of the classroom to the courtroom.
With over 20 active student organizations to serve the small, tight-knit student body, the Akron Law campus is active and engaged. Akron Law also takes an active approach to ensuring the student body is a robust mixture of minority and female students. Akron Law is also notable in that 25% of its students are the first in their family to attend law school and nearly 80% of their students receive some level of financial aid.
The law school is located in the heart of downtown Akron, a city renowned for its quality of life. The law school is in walking distance of unique eateries as well as the city’s civic theater and downtown museum. North of Akron is the metropolis of Cleveland–less than 45 minutes away. Between Cleveland and Akron lies the Cuyahoga Valley National Park that offers students miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, and wilderness. Housing in Akron is remarkably affordable. Along with the schools generous financial aid program and the cost of living in Akron, students at Akron Law enjoy a great value on their education.