Founded just before the civil war by the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, the University of Georgia School of Law (Georgia Law) has resided its current location on the historic north campus since 1932. Since that time, the original building has been upgraded and expanded including an adjacent building that opened in 1996 which houses the international law center and additional classrooms. Acceptance into Georgia Law is notably competitive with just over 25% of applicants being offered admission. The law school is also noteworthy for its exceptional student to faculty ratio (6 to 1) as well as its generous financial aid programs. The school is also an exceptional value for Georgia residents, offering a top tier education at fraction of the cost of most private institutions.
The first year of study at the University of Georgia School of Law grounds students in six core courses of the traditional law school education: civil procedure, constitutional law, contract, criminal law, property, and torts. Students also take a one credit course covering the basics of legal research plus a two semester course covering the basics of legal writing. In their second semester, students choose one elective. Aside from the required first year curriculum, students are only required to complete a class in legal ethics, a writing requirement, and satisfy the experiential education requirement. All other courses taken to complete the 88 credits necessary for graduation are the discretion of the student.
Upper-class students at Georgia Law will note that typical class sizes drop from roughly 60 students during their first year to smaller 10-20 person seminar-style classes. The course offerings are exceptionally broad and grouped into 18 different concentrations which allow students to pursue the academic goals as well as build the background for their legal practices.
Georgia Law offers two graduate programs beyond their Juris Doctor degree. The law school offers a Master of Law (LL.M) degree that allows students to pursue a concentration in one five areas. All concentrations require 26 hours of credit and two required courses: one covering the basics of the American legal system and the other covering legal writing and research. International students can pursue a curriculum designed to prepare them for the bar exam in most American jurisdictions but most show English fluency to enroll in the program.
Georgia Law also offers a Master of Studies in Law (MSL) degree designed for students without a Juris Doctor degree but who need a grounding in the legal system for their careers. The MSL program requires 30 hours of coursework which made be completed in a single year or over the course of three years for students who are enrolled part-time. MSL students take a required course on the American legal system and then choose a curriculum that fits their career paths.
In addition to their graduate programs, Georgia Law also offers students the opportunity to combine their Juris Doctor with a masters degree from any of seven other masters programs including an M.B.A, a Masters of Public Policy, or a Masters of Social Work. The dual degree program requires admission to both programs. Combining programs generally allows students to complete both degrees in less than time than pursuing them separately.
Career and Career Placement
Almost 87% of the most recent graduating class of the University of Georgia School of Law found full-time work or pursued additional education within the first year after graduation. Almost 99% of those who found work did so in a career that either required a law license or preferred a Juris Doctor degree. The most common career choice (almost 30%) was work in small or medium-sized law firms (2 to 50 attorneys). However, Georgia Law graduates show remarkable variety in the career paths with a significant number of students pursuing careers in government offices (10%), business (10%), the public interest sector (9%), and judicial clerkships (24%).
Georgia Law’s Office of Career Placement provides students with a range of services that include one-on-one counseling, on-campus interviews, and a unique mentor program that pairs students with academic and professional mentors starting in their first semester. The staff of eight counselors works individually with each student to chart a career path and then provide countless resources to achieve their goals. Georgia Law also has a dedicated remote interviewing room for career interviews from remote employers and has a wealth of online resources for students.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Georgia Law offers students 17 different unique legal clinics or externships that provide students with an invaluable experience to practice real-world legal skills while also developing their career goals. Both the clinics and externship program work with the local community to provide legal services to those in need as well as government offices and even judges. Students can find traditional clinics in courtroom practice or pursue programs that teach students alternative dispute resolution or protect animal welfare. Students are also allowed to spend a semester practicing law in either nearby Atlanta or Washington, D.C.
Georgia degree program all require residential coursework.
Student life at the University of Georgia School of Law is as vivid as one would expect from one of the premier public universities and best college towns in the country. The school offers students a broad array of student organizations, public interest foundations, student-run journals, and opportunities to interact with classmates both professionally and personally. Each year Georgia Law also celebrates “Wellness Week” to offer students a number of resources to help build health work-life balance. Law students are also able to take advantage of the many resources offered by the main university including tickets to Georgia Bulldog sporting events.
Athens, Georgia is one of the most idyllic settings for any University. Sitting just west of the major metropolitan area of Atlanta and north of Georgia’s largest national forest, the city of Athens is both an urban haven with immediate access to outdoor recreation. The city provides an active nightlife and is nationally known for its pioneering music industry which produced such acts as R.E.M. and Widespread Panic. Housing is abundant and affordable. The city is also home to the state arboretum.