Founded in 1922 by the Catholic Society of Mary, the University of Dayton School of Law (Dayton Law) was built on a tradition of academic excellence and inclusivity. Its inaugural class, which included two women and one African-American, all passed the bar exam on their first attempt. During the Great Depression, economic hardship forced the law school to close but it reopened in 1974 with the same commitment to academic excellence and inclusivity. The law school also sought to train lawyers committed to social justice. In recent years, Dayton Law has also become an innovator in education by incorporating unique programs to develop professionalism and incorporate technology into the teaching and practice of the law. Dayton Law’s many distinguished alumni include the first African-American mayor of Columbus, Ohio and numerous members of the Ohio Judiciary.
Dayton Law offers three paths to earning a Juris Doctor degree: a traditional program, an accelerated program, and a hybrid program that combines online and in-person classes. The traditional Juris Doctor is designed to be completed in three years (six semesters). The first year-curriculum includes five of six core courses of the traditional American legal education: civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Students also take two semesters of Dayton Law’s renowned Legal Profession program which introduces students to the skills necessary to succeed as attorneys. Students also complete a learning skill lab that also provides additional practical training. Of note, Dayton Law’s core academic courses are also taught with a skills component to help students understand how to apply academic lessons to the real world. In their second year, students in the traditional program complete two semesters of constitutional law, the second semester of contracts, and a course covering the legislative process. Prior to graduation, students must also complete a number of required courses: professional responsibility, real property, criminal procedure, and evidence. All students must complete an upper-level writing requirement, a clinic or externship, a course covering alternative dispute resolution, and a capstone course. In their final semester, all students complete a bar preparation course.
Dayton Law’s accelerated two-year Juris Doctor program has the same requirements as the traditional program but allows them to be completed using full-time summer semesters to complete the program in two full years rather than two. The first semester begin in May in summer classes. Students take their 2nd and 3rd semester in the fall and spring respectively. Students complete their fourth semester during a second summer term before completing the program in two regular terms (fall and spring). The advantage of completing the program in two years is that students enter the job market faster and save money on housing costs. Students also have the option of completing the accelerated program in two and a half years by skipping the first summer sessions which allows students to graduate a semester early.
Dayton Law’s hybrid degree is one of the few programs in the country that combines in-person classes with online learning to provide students with an extremely flexible degree program. Students combine live, face-to-face learning that allows them to interact with their professors and classmates in real-time. Students also attend at least 10 in-person learning sessions on the campus of Dayton Law. This minimizes the time students must be on campus making the program extremely practical for working students or those with additional familial responsibilities.
In addition to their Juris Doctor degree, Dayton Law also offers two additional Master programs–one for lawyers and one for non-lawyers. For students who have already earned their first law degree, Dayton Law offers a Master of Laws (LL.M) program with seven different certification options. Generally, the LL.M requires 30 hours of coursework that may be completed in residential coursework or in an online format for international students who want to expand their understanding of U.S. law as well qualify to sit for a bar exam in the U.S. All LL.M students complete roughly 12 hours of core courses before focusing on their certification subject. Certification options include applied business law, criminal law, cyberlaw, government contracting, intellectual law, social justice, and U.S. legal practice.
Dayton Law’s Master of Science of Law (M.S.L.) program is designed to introduce non-lawyers to the fundamentals of the legal system as well as help them specialize in one of the same concentration areas as offered in the LL.M program. The program also requires 30 hours of coursework similar to the LL.M.
Juris Doctor students at Dayton Law may also earn a second professional degree as part of the school’s joint degree program. Students may pair their J.D. studies with an M.B.A., a Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.), a Master of Science in Education Administration, or create their own hybrid joint degree program. Aside from saving time completing both degrees, students learn to understand the cross-connection and interdisciplinary connection between the legal field and other professions. This provides students with a distinct advantage as they prepare for their professional careers.
Undergraduate students at Dayton University may also leverage the school’s “3+2” or “3+3” program to enroll in law school during their final year of undergraduate studies. This allows students to complete both degrees in either five (using the accelerated J.D. path) or six years (using the traditional path).
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent employment outcome data, over 91% of all graduates of Dayton Law were employed within 10 months of graduation. Of those employed, almost 98% were employed in careers that either requires a law license or prefers a Juris Doctor degree. These placements levels rank Dayton Law second of Ohio’s ten law schools for job placement (and bar passage). Less than half of all graduates opted for careers in traditional law firms with small law firms of 1 to 10 attorneys being the most popular. Nearly one-third of all graduates opted for careers in these firms. Another third of graduates chose careers in either government offices or public interest offices. Over 15% of graduates opted for careers in the business sector. In all, 57% of all graduates remained in the state of Ohio to begin their professional careers.
The Dayton Law Career Services Office (CSO) provides its students and alumni with numerous opportunities to help them assess their interests and skills, navigate towards meaningful career options, increase their job search skills, and find summer and long-term employment. All students can take advantage of one-on-one counseling services where students meet with the CSO’s staff of professional career advisors. The CSO also programs throughout the year to help students learn how to build a professional resume, hone their interview skills, or master online job search tools.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Dayton Law is committed to graduating lawyers who are “practice-ready.” This commitment is reflected from the very first semesters in the law school’s innovative legal profession program where students master the primary skills of legal research, analysis, and writing. These skills are enhanced in later semesters through capstone courses that practice legal communication or transactional drafting skills. Additionally, all Dayton Law’s first-year courses also have a skills component built into the curriculum.
In addition to skill-based coursework, all Dayton Law students must complete at least one clinic or externship. In the school’s legal clinics, students are paired with another classmate while working on real cases under the supervision of a faculty expert. Students work with clients on cases ranging from civil and criminal matters to immigration and intellectual property issues. Students learn how to advocate for their clients, master the ethical practice of law, and meet critical timelines for their cases.
In an externships, students work under the direct supervision of a judge or a lawyer in an external field placement. Each externships requires almost 200 hours of supervised work where students learn all facets of practicing law. Externships also help students build their professional networks.
Dayton Law is part of a University that is built on the traditions of the Society of Mary, a Catholic order that emphasized service, social justice, and the need to nourish the mind, body, and spirit. At Dayton Law, these traditions create an environment where students and faculty share their passions for social change while also nourishing their entire lives. The school’s many student organizations offer all students the opportunity to give back to the local community through pro bono efforts. Each fall, the law school hosts a Thanksgiving dinner that offers students the opportunity to celebrate with the community. Students interact socially at the school’s annual formal–the Barrister’s Ball. The school also boasts numerous wellness programs that include health and exercise facilities, a daycare for students with children, and counseling services.
The law school’s modern campus is located just south of downtown Dayton in a part of the city that looks and feels like a “college town.” The law school is a short walk from the university’s main drag of food and nightlife. Affordable housing is located in walking distance of the law school. Dayton, as a whole, is one of Ohio’s most desirable cities. The city offers an extremely affordable cost of living with huge amenities both in the city and close by in Cincinnati and Indianapolis. The city is full of parks most of which run alongside the banks of the Miami River that runs through the city center. Students enjoy Dayton’s many galleries and performance spaces as well as the bustling nightlife of the Oregon district or the unique restaurants along Brown street.