The University of Kansas School of Law (Kansas Law) replaced the university’s department of law in 1893 to become the first law school in the state of Kansas. Since opening its doors, the school has proudly welcomed all students regardless of race, gender, or religious affiliation. Kansas Law also is intentionally affordable so that its graduates have more flexibility in career choices without overwhelming debt. Over 80% of students receive some grant assistance during the studies at Kansas Law. The affordability of Kansas Law is reflected in career choices as nearly 25% of graduates opt for careers in the public interest sector or government offices. Kansas Law has produced a number of notable jurists in its history including four state supreme court justices and a number of federal appellate court appointees.
The traditional Juris Doctor program at Kansas Law requires 90 hours of coursework for completion. Almost 30 hours of coursework is completed in the first-year curriculum including instruction in six core courses: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. First-year students also take a two-semester course that introduces them to the fundamental skills of lawyering including research, writing, and advocacy.
Upper-level students are required to take three additional courses from a pool of 10 additional core courses as well as a semester course in professional responsibility. Students must also satisfy the requirements for an upper-level writing assignment as well as experiential education credits. Although all other courses are elective, Kansas Law offers students 14 different areas of study as well as seven certification programs. While the areas of study suggest courses for students interested in certain practice areas, the certification programs allow students to complete required course and skill-based work to certify that they are practice-ready in certain areas of the law.
In addition to their Juris Doctor program, Kansas Law offers several additional programs for both lawyers and non-lawyers. For internationally educated lawyers, Kansas Law offers an abbreviate Juris Doctor program that can be completed in two years and a total of 60 hours of coursework. The two-year program follows the same first-year curriculum and then a second year of elective courses (including three from the pool of additional core courses). Foreign trained lawyers may also pursue a Master of Laws (LL.M) in American Legal Studies. The LL.M program is a one-year, 24 credit hour program that immerses foreign lawyers in the fundamentals of U.S. law.
Kansas Law offers a unique Master of Science degree focused on homeland security to non-lawyers who wish to understand the intersection of law and homeland security, The one-year program requires 33 hours of coursework including a first-semester that grounds students in the fundamentals of homeland security law.
Juris Doctor candidates also have the option to combine their J.D. with one of 12 other professional degrees. Joint degree options include combining the law degree with a graduate degree in business, public administration, or journalism. In all joint degrees, students are required to apply for admission to both programs separately and coursework must be completed concurrently. By working on both programs at the same time, joint degree candidates are able to complete both programs in less time than pursuing them individually.
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent employment statistics, upwards of 90% of all Kansas Law graduates are employed in careers either requiring a law license or preferring a law degree within 10 months of graduation. Careers in government were the most popular choice for graduates followed by small law firm work and careers in the public interest sector. Over 10% of graduates accepted judicial clerkships in either the federal or state court systems. Over 70% of graduates began their careers in either Kansas or Missouri.
The Career Services Office (CSO) at Kansas Law is staffed by three professionals who serve the small student body with a range of career services. Each year, the CSO facilitates almost 700 on-campus interviews each year and hosts a number of programs to help guide and prepare students for their future careers.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
For over 50 years, Kansas Law has integrated hand-on learning into its curriculum for educating lawyers. Students at Kansas Law learn through experiential programs including the school’s clinical program, field placement, and classroom simulations. The school’s four clinical programs pair classroom work with live cases where students play an integral in helping real clients solve a range of legal problems.
Kansas Law offers additional hands-on training through field placements in a number of practice areas. Like clinics, field placements include a classroom component, allowing students the opportunity to immediately apply their coursework to the actual practice of law.
Each year, Kansas Law offers a number of simulation courses that allow students to practice skill-based lessons in the confines of a classroom. The classroom setting allows for students to tackle complex, often interdisciplinary legal problems.
Kansas Law requires all degrees to be completed in residential coursework.
Situated on the main campus of the University of Kansas, law students at Kansas Law enjoy all the amenities offered by the university. Students can take advantage of a range of health, wellness, and childcare services that are all available on campus. The law school also celebrates its long history of diversity and inclusion as reflected by their wide array of student organizations and the annual diversity in law banquet. Law students also participate in a number of annual traditions that celebrate their unique place in the university community.
Lawrence, Kansas is considered one of the best college towns in America. With a population of just under 100,000 people, the university plays a central role in the community. The town presents a range of affordable housing options and excellent schools for parents. When students long for big-city life, a short drive to Kansas City offers nightlife, professional sports, and world-famous barbecue. Life in Lawrence is collegial and active.