For over 100 years, the University of Idaho College of Law (Idaho Law) served the state of Idaho as the only accredited law school in the state. The main law school campus is located in the town of Moscow in the northern part of the state on the border of Washington. In 2010, Idaho Law opened another campus in the state capital of Boise. Since 2017, students have been able to complete their academic courses in either location. The student body for both campuses is around 300 students with 20% attending classes on the Boise campus. As the only law school in the state for some time, Idaho Law alumni have dominated the state’s legal profession producing 11 state supreme court justices, one governor, two attorney generals, and numerous state representatives.
The Juris Doctor program at Idaho Law requires 90 hours of residential coursework for completion. The first-year curriculum requires over 30 hours of mandatory coursework including instruction in the core courses of the American legal education: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. During their first year, students also receive instruction in the methodologies of legal research as well as a two-semester course in legal analysis and writing. In their writing and analysis class, students write a mock appellate brief and deliver oral arguments as they begin to hone their practical skills. All first-year students being their academic careers with a weeklong orientation program that presses them to consider the underlying social and philosophical nature of the law. Lawyers from the region participate in this process as students begin to build their professional networks.
After their first year, students are required to take five additional courses: the second semester of constitutional law, business administration, evidence, administrative law, and professional responsibility. All students must satisfy the requirement to complete at least six hours of experiential education, complete a major writing project, and complete the school’s professional development and education program.
The remainder of the coursework at Idaho Law is elective in nature. The law school has three areas of emphasis: business law, Native American law, and natural resources and environmental law. The school offers a formal certification in the area of natural resources and environmental law. The certification requires a specific curriculum of coursework while the emphasis area suggests courses and experiential learning to help students master certain areas of the law.
Juris Doctor candidates at Idaho Law may also pursue a dual or concurrent degree in conjunction with their legal studies. In the dual degree program, students work on both professional degrees at the same time which allows certain credits to be shared between both programs. This approach has two major benefits: first, it allows students to reduce the total time to complete both programs; second, it allows students to learn from an interdisciplinary approach to the study of law. Dual degree programs include pairing the J.D. with a Masters in accountancy, business, taxation, environmental science, water resources, or public administration. The programs generally take four years to complete. Students spend one of the first two years focused on one program. During their final two years, students study both as they complete their academic requirements.
Idaho Law has a unique partnership with Gonzaga’s Florence Summer Law program that allows Idaho Law students to spend a summer studying in the University of District of Florence, Italy. This program exposes students to international law and the international legal community.
All students at Idaho Law also have access to a unique program that is driven towards ensuring success on the bar exam. Students have access to these resources from the very first days on campus until the passing the bar exam.
Careers and Career Placement
Based on the most recent employment outcome statistics, 85% of all graduates of Idaho Law are employed within 10 months of graduation. Of those employed, 93% find careers that either require a law license or prefer a Juris Doctor degree. Idaho Law graduates chose a wide variety of careers with small law firm work being the most common choice (32%) followed by government and public interest work (26%). In total, law firms of all sizes accounted for less than 40% of careers. Idaho Law importance to the local legal community is also reflected in the number of graduates who were awarded judicial clerkships (22%). Interestingly, only 43% of graduates remained in Idaho to begin their careers. Washington and Alaska were the second and third most common jurisdictions for graduates.
The Career Development Office (CDO) at Idaho Law provides a range of services to help students meet their professional goals. At the heart of the CDO’s offerings is individual, personalized counseling for all students. The sessions range from professional to academic advice as the CDO tailors their resources to meet the needs and aspirations of each student. The CDO also provides students with a timeline to plot their career related decisions as they move through their academic careers. These timelines are slowly customized as students professional goals become more solidified. Idaho Law maintains a dedicated job bank for local and regional employers looking to hire Idaho Law graduates.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Idaho Law has developed a strong reputation for building practical skills in its graduates. Between its two campuses, Idaho Law offers students six different clinical programs where students may work with real clients on a variety of legal issues. In their main campus in Moscow, students work in clinics focused on mediation, immigration, bankruptcy, and “main street” law (a wide selection of common legal issues faced in small practices). In Boise, students work in a family law clinic or an entrepreneurship clinic. In all clinics, students learn through practicing while being supervised by faculty experts.
Students at Idaho Law may also build practical skills by performing research and other law-related work as part of the school’s externship program. During an externship, students are paired with a field placement supervisor–a practicing attorney–and work closely together to help resolve any number of legal issues. This “semester in practice” allows students to begin building their professional networks as they engage with other attorneys in their field.
Idaho Law has a unique program where law students help perform research for local magistrate judges as well as the state legislature. This is one of the many ways in which the law school is tied closely to the local and regional legal community.
Idaho law students also gain practical experience through a number of co-curricular activities including the school’s robust pro bono program, their competitive moot court and trial advocacy teams, and through encouraging and assisting students in legal writing competitions.
Idaho Law’s two campuses are separated by almost 300 miles. On the main, Moscow campus, students enjoy a traditional collegiate atmosphere surrounded by the university and the quaint community that supports it. The law school campus supports an active student organization system and the larger university affords students recreational and health facilities. The town of Moscow and small but active with affordable housing and access to Idaho’s majestic wilderness areas. Moscow also offers a short drive to Seattle.
Students in Boise enjoy life in Idaho’s capital and financial center. Boise is truly one of the most unique cities in America. The Boise rive runs through the center of the city just a few short blocks from the law school campus. The law school is two shorts blocks from the state capital, fully immersed in the state’s legal center. To the east, however, the Sawtooth National Forest looms over the city while the scenic Snake River flows to the west. Boise is a major city in the region offering students a more metropolitan atmosphere than the main campus. In both cities, students enjoy the unique and close-knit atmosphere of the University of Idaho’s College of Law.