The University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law (Kentucky Law) opened its doors in 1908 as one of the first public law schools in the country. In its 100 plus year history, the law school has been located in several locations but has been in its current location since 1965. However, in 2018, the law school building was completely renovated making the facility one of the newest in the country. Kentucky Law also houses the largest law library in the commonwealth of Kentucky. The law school also started the first trial program in the country and continues to be a leader in trial advocacy. Kentucky Law’s many notable alumni include Senator Mitch McConnell, the leader of the U.S. Senate.
Kentucky Law requires all students to complete six semesters of residential study or, in the alternative, five full semesters plus two summer sessions in their accelerated program. The first-year curriculum is identical for both the traditional and the accelerated program. In their first two-semesters, students take the six core courses of American legal education: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Students also take two semesters of legal research and writing, which provides them with an introduction to these fundamental skills. This course is taught in unique “clubs” (all named after distinguished lawyers) that allow small groups of students to interact closely with practicing faculty experts.
After their first year, students have only the most basic requirements: a course in professional responsibility, an upper-level writing assignment, and six hours of experiential education courses. Upper-class students can choose from the law school’s extensive course catalog. Kentucky Law also provides detailed course planning materials that help students plan for particular practice areas while also ensuring that they are prepared to pass the bar exam.
Kentucky Law offers students the opportunity to pursue one of four dual degree programs as they also pursue their Juris Doctor degree. In the dual degree program, students work on both degrees concurrently such that select courses are credited to both programs. This approach not only allows students to complete both degrees faster but also to gain additional insights through the interdisciplinary study of two subjects. Dual degree options include pairing the J.D. with an M.B.A, a Master of Art in Diplomacy and International Commerce, a Master of Public Administration, or Master of Health Administration.
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent statistics, over 92% of all graduates of Kentucky Law are employed in careers either requiring a law license or preferring a Juris Doctor degree within 10 months of graduation. Almost half of all students (48%) opted for careers in traditional law firms with small law firms being the most popular choice followed by mid-sized firms of 101-250 attorneys. Kentucky Law also secured an impressive number of judicial clerkships with over 20% of graduates opting for a clerkship including 10 federal clerkships. Another 20% of graduates pursued careers in either government positions or in the public interest sector. Almost 70% of graduates remained in the commonwealth of Kentucky to begin their careers.
The staff of three professionals at the Kentucky Law Career Development Office (CDO) not only counsels students on how to find their first jobs (including summer internships) after law school but also how to build their entire legal careers. The CDO organizes on-campus interviews in both the fall and spring semesters. Additionally, the CDO maintains a robust job database for all students and alumni and pushes out job postings throughout the year from employers who want to hire a Kentucky Law student or graduate. The CDO also maintains a dedicated resource center to aid students in preparing resumes and interviews.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Kentucky Law students have the opportunity to learn practical skill both in and out of the classroom. Inside the classroom, Kentucky Law offers over 30 skill-based classes that focus on building practical skills that apply the law to real world situations. The subject matter of these courses range from alternative dispute resolution to estate planning to making supreme court arguments. Students may also earn course credit for certain externships including working in judicial offices in the local courts (which often lead to post-graduate clerkships).
Outside the classroom, third-year students at Kentucky Law may work in the school’s legal clinics. The clinical program offers students the opportunity to practice law while representing low-income clients from the surrounding community. The clinics operate as a law firm and are housed across the street from the law school. While working with real clients, students learn the fundamental skills of client interviews, drafting court filings, and arguing cases before the local courts.
At Kentucky Law, most students are engaged in the community through one or more of the many student organizations. These organizations offer students the opportunity to build communities based on shared political, religious, and social beliefs. The organizations host programming and produce events that enrich the entire law school community and serve the greater community in general. Kentucky Law also has a robust pro bono program that offers students countless opportunities to give back to the civic community. Law students also enjoy access to all the amenities of the large main campus.
Lexington, Kentucky is one of the country’s most unique and exciting cities. The city is famous for its rich traditions of horse racing, seasonal festivals, and its famous collegiate basketball team. Students enjoy the vibrant culture of the city while also enjoying one of the most affordable large cities in the country. Lexington is also a short drive from the major metropolises of Cincinnati and Louisville which offers additional big city amenities. To the east of Lexington, the state is covered in national forest land offering students countless recreational opportunities.