With a history that stretches over 140 years, the University of Alabama School of Law (Alabama Law) is one of only five law schools (and the only public law school) in the state of Alabama. With its relatively large student body of almost 300 students per class, admission to Alabama Law is still competitive with an acceptance rate of 35%. For in-state residents, Alabama Law is a tremendous value. The school provides an outstanding education on par with the best private schools in the country at a fraction of the cost. In 2019, the incoming class of law students made history as, for the first time, the class was composed mostly of women. The school’s history has produced a number of significant jurists including Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black as well as Alabama governor George Wallace.
In their first semester, students at Alabama law take three core courses: Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, and Torts. Students take an introductory course on legal research and writing as well as a one hour introductory course on the study of law generally. In their second semester, students take three additional core courses: Constitutional Law, Contracts, and Property. Students continue their research and writing with a class focused on Moot Court–a simulated appellate court process that requires research, writing and advocacy. Students also take a class on the regulatory and legislative processes.
In their second and third years, students are only required to complete three courses: a class in the legal profession, a seminar course, and six hours of experiential education. The study of the legal profession covers the professional side of lawyering–from bar exams to licensing. Seminar courses are small, intensive courses that cover a variety of perspectives on legal issues. There are no other required courses, however, the Alabama Law course offerings are notably broad providing students with countless options for their future careers. As students define their career choices, certain courses are strongly suggested but not required.
Alabama Law offers an incredibly flexible Masters of Law (LL.M) for both lawyers and non-lawyers. The law school offers an online LL.M degree with a concentration in either Taxation or Tax with a concentration in business transactions. There is a third online option–a Juris Masters in Taxation–that is also offered to non-lawyers who need a grounding in tax law. Both LL.M programs require 24 hours of coursework while the Juris Masters require 30 hours of coursework. Classes are generally taught in the evening in an online setting.
For international students who want to familiarize themselves with American Law, Alabama Law offers an LL.M that must be completed in residence. Admission to the program is extremely selective. As one of the most highly regarded public law schools in the country, Alabama LL.M program is competitively priced and one of the best values for international students. For students who complete the LL.M program, the school selects a small number of students to continue into the Doctor of Juridical Science program. These students work under close supervision with faculty to continue their coursework and complete a dissertation on a topic in legal academia.
Career and Career Placement
Within 10 month of graduation, over 94% of the class of 2018 found long term employment. Overwhelmingly, graduates found work in careers that either required a law license or prefer a Juris Doctor degree. The most common professional path was into a law firm with small law firms of less than 10 attorneys being the most common choice. Graduates also had a strong preference for careers in the business sector (11%), public interest roles (9%), and government positions (12%). Although the State of Alabama was the most common destination for student’s first careers, more than half of graduates started their careers in states other than Alabama.
The Career Services Center works with all students to provide them with the skills to navigate the employment process and prepare them for not only their first careers but a lifetime of employment in the legal field. Their resources include on and off-campus interview coordination and resume collection as well as offering a range of programs including lunchtime programs, an interview preparation program, and a unique “shadow” program where students follow a practicing attorney throughout their day to gauge the real-world demands of a particular career path. The practice interview program is targeted to first-year students in their spring semester as they prepare for their first round of summer internship interviews although the Career Services Center offers practice interviews at any time.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Students are required to complete six hours of experiential education. To complete this requirement, the University of Alabama Law School offers a wide range of professional skill based courses ranging from their robust clinical offerings to courses in mediation, legal interviewing, and the drafting of transactions. Alabama Law houses six full time legal clinics which offer students a selection of practice areas to represent real clients in real legal situations under the close supervision of expert faculty members. Alabama Law also has a number of trial advocacy programs including competitive teams and one of the best moot court programs in the country.
Although the Juris Doctor and the International LL.M degree require residential coursework, Alabama Law is unique in offering three different masters programs that can be completed online through distance education. These programs are generally taught in one calendar year with courses occurring in the evening.
At the University of Alabama Law School, students enjoy a unique setting on the edge of the central campus. With a striking addition and renovation completed in 2006, the law school is integrated with technology and student spaces while being surrounded by a 23 acre open plain. Student life is notably vibrant with any number of student organizations as well as several student-run, highly regarded publications. The school also offers a wellness program and a counselor to help students balance work and life. Students are also part of one of the most exciting universities in the country with full access to the university’s resources including football tickets to Crimson Tide games.
The city of Tuscaloosa is located in central Alabama on the banks of the picturesque Black Warrior River. The law school is less than an hour from Birmingham and less than three hours from the major metropolis of Atlanta. The city itself is full of affordable student housing and a wealth of dining and entertainment options.