The University of Connecticut School of Law (UConn Law) is one of the most important public law schools in the northeastern United States. For almost 50 years, students at UConn Law have taken classes in the historic Hartford Seminary building whose gothic architecture became a model for other schools. The school’s Thomas J. Meskill Law Library is part of one of the largest research library collections in the region. For residents of Connecticut, the school provides a deep discount for in-state tuition, making the law school a tremendous value. Its alumni have dominated the state’s judicial system. In total, the school has graduated 12 future Connecticut Supreme Court Justices and seven justices of the Appellate Court.
At UConn Law, the first year of academic coursework combines both the traditional courses of legal education and skill-based learning. The first semester introduces students to the subjects of civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, and torts. Students are also introduced to the practices of legal research and writing. During the winter session, students may also take a unique course that covers legal negotiations. Following the winter session, first-year students round out the academic portion of the year with courses in constitutional law and property. During the spring, students add additional skill-based courses in advocacy and advanced lawyering skills.
UConn Law also offers an evening, part-time Juris Doctor program which requires the same coursework spread across five semesters. The class on negotiations is taught in a June term instead of in the winter for evening students.
During their upper-class years, UConn Law students must complete experiential learning credits, an upper-level writing assignment, and take one course covering legal ethics. The law school also offers five unique certification programs which suggest a course of study to prepare students for various practice areas. Certifications range from energy and environmental law to tax law. By completing a certification program, students also indicate their master of a subject matter to potential employers.
UConn Law also offers a Master of Laws (LL.M) program that complements its Juris Doctor program. The LL.M is offered in four distinct programs. For international students who did not graduate from a U.S. law school, UConn Law offers an LL.M focused on the U.S. legal system which allows students to sit for the bar exam. For students who have earned their Juris Doctor, UConn Law offers three LL.M concentrations in insurance law, human rights law, and environmental law. The program in insurance law is set-up as a part-time course of study.
For graduates of an LL.M program who wish to pursue an academic subject further, UConn Law also has a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) program. The S.J.D. degree generally takes two to four years to complete. Working under the supervision of a faculty advisor, S.J.D. candidates research an academic subject with the goal of producing a publishable dissertation.
Juris Doctor candidates may also opt to enroll in a dual degree program with one of the university’s other professional schools. UConn Law has dual programs that couple the J.D. program with Masters in business, public health, public administration, and social work. This interdisciplinary approach prepares law students for the complex world of modern law. Admission to both programs is required but students can usually complete both programs in less time as credits are shared between programs.
Career and Career Placement
Just under 90% of all graduates of UConn are employed within 10 months of graduation (based on statistics from the most recent classes). The majority of those employed (95%) were employed in careers that required a licensed attorney or preferred a Juris Doctor degree. Graduates chose a wide range of careers including judicial clerkships (19%), small law firms (15%), government offices (12%), business sector work (11%), and large law firm work (11%). The range of careers chose by UConn Law graduates reflects the quality and diversity of the education.
The UConn Law Center for Career Development focuses on creating a personal career plan for each student. This unique approach reflects the varied career goals of their diverse student body and center’s belief that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach that works for all students. The Center for Career Development emphasizes finding careers that are meaningful, providing graduates with balance and fulfillment. The Center provides a number of programs throughout the year to achieve this goal.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Experiential learning at UConn law is known as “Practice Based Learning” and is accomplished starting in the very first semesters of student’s education. The first year introduces students to the practical skills needed for successful lawyers. In later semesters, students take advantage of the school’s clinical and field placement program. UConn Law has 15 different clinics and field placements that offer a wide range of practice areas where students can apply their academic learning to real-world legal issues with real clients. Students may also opt to create their own field placement opportunity through approval by the Program Director. In all cases, clinic and field placement work are supervised by faculty member and are generally wedded to classroom work so students can learn both in and out of the classroom.
UConn Law also offers several simulation courses each that ask students to step into various roles as they work together to solve complex legal issues. Simulation courses present notably complex problems–more complex than those a student faces in the clinical settings–but in a classroom setting where students can learn various approaches to solving modern day legal problems.
Although UConn Law does not have an online Juris Doctor, it does offer a part-time evening program that offers more flexibility for working professionals.
With a small student body (entering classes are about 100 students) and a notably tight-knit atmosphere, UConn Law is both professional and personal. Students become colleagues as they become part of the active and engaged campus life. The school boasts over 30 student-run organizations which stress civic engagement and social responsibility. The campus is also built for students including an on-site cafe and spaces for students to gather and study.
The law school campus is situated halfway between downtown Hartford and Talcom Mountain State Park. In many ways, this location reflects the varied opportunity offered at UConn Law. To the West is downtown Hartford and onward to Boston, Massachusetts. Other urban centers such as New York City are a short drive or train ride away. To the west, however, is the beginnings of New England wild spaces that stretch into the Green Mountains. Students at UConn Law enjoy both. Hartford housing is affordable and readily available. The campus plays a central role in the town as students enjoys its many sporting events and social gatherings.