Located in the capital city of Portland, the University of Maine School of Law (Maine Law) is the only law school in the state. Due to its location, the law school has a long-standing relationship with the capital’s legal complex offering students a unique opportunity to work with state lawmakers and judges while in school. Since its founding in 1962, the public institution has been committed to educating lawyers interested in serving the state through public service. This commitment is reflected in the school’s many alumni. Since 1962, Maine Law has graduated four future governors of the state include current Maine governor, Janet Mills. The law school has also produced four attorney generals for the state and numerous state and federal lawmakers.
The first-year curriculum at Maine Law introduces to the fundamentals of the American legal system through six core courses, three each semester. In the fall, students are introduced to the subjects of civil procedure, contracts, and property. In the spring, students take courses in constitutional law, criminal law, and torts. During both semesters, students are introduced to practical skills in a course covering legal writing, research, and communication.
Prior to graduation, all students must take three additional substantive courses: professional responsibility, legislative and administrative law, and one elective from a small pool of foundational classes such as tax law or evidence. These required courses ensure that students have built a foundation to practice law and pass the bar exam.
The upper-class course catalog for students offers a broad and complete range of subjects to prepare students for their professional careers. Maine Law also offers two certificate programs that allow students to concentrate their studies in a particular practice areas. Certifications are available in information privacy and ocean and coastal law. By obtaining a certification, students demonstrate a mastery of fundamental academic and practical skills of these areas of the law.
Maine Law offers an advanced graduate degree for students who have completed their Juris Doctor or its foreign equivalent. The Master of Laws (LL.M) program is a flexible, one-year program that allows students access to the broad course selections available at Maine Law. Foreign educated attorneys are required to take a course covering the fundamentals of the American legal system. LL.M candidates may also opt to concentrate in either intellectual property or information privacy. Both of these substantive tracks concentrate students into particular practice areas.
Juris Doctor candidates also have the option of pursuing a dual degree while completing their law school studies. The University of Maine offers dual degrees in conjunction with the school of business and the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. The dual degree program requires admission into both programs. Students earn their J.D. and a masters degree by working concurrently and sharing credits between the two programs.
Career and Career Placement
Within 10 months of graduation, an average of 82% of graduates of Maine Law are employed. For those employed, over 80% are employed in careers that require a law license while an additional 16% are employed in careers that prefer a Juris Doctor degree. Maine Law graduates career paths were notably diverse. Over 30% of students opted for careers in small law firms with 1 to 10 attorneys while 15% of students chose to enter the business sector. Just under 20% of employed graduates chose careers in the public interest sector or in government offices. Another 15% of graduates were awarded judicial clerkships in the local and state court system. Over 75% of graduates remained in the state of Maine to begin their professional careers.
The Career Services Center (CSC) at Maine Law partners with students and alumni to provide a range of professional services to help students plan and succeed in their professional careers. Aside from individual counseling, the CSC also provides programming throughout the year to introduce students to various practitioners in a wide variety of fields. The school’s close proximity and connection to the state legislature and court system also affords students ample opportunity to build their professional networks. The CSC is also responsible for organizing on-campus interviews for students as well as maintaining a dedicated job bank for students.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
In the 1970s, Maine Law established one of the first legal clinics–the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic–in the nation. The clinic serves the underrepresented community of Maine in four legal practice areas. Each clinic functions as a separate legal office. Students work in the clinical program in order to build foundational skills that prepare them for the practice of law. Additionally, Maine Law houses two legal centers–one focused on ocean and coastal law and the other focused on juvenile policy–which both help influence state law and policy in these critical areas of the law. The clinic is the most important method for Maine Law students to develop real-world practical skills.
Maine Law students also have the option of learning experientially through an external field placement. The externship program also exposes students to the daily practice of law by placing them in a local or regional law office. The externship program offers a wider range of practice areas for student to build critical professional skills.
Maine Law’s program all require residential coursework.
Maine Law is committed to developing and educating attorney who balance their professional careers with a healthy lifestyle. All students have access to the University Health and Counseling Services that provide students with a broad range of physical and mental health services. Students are also able to access the university’s exercise facility that is located a short distance from the law school campus. Maine Law students maintain an active student organization system that reflects the school’s many diverse backgrounds and viewpoints.
Set on the base of a peninsula that juts into the Casco Bay, Maine Law offers students a quaint and idyllic taste of New England. The nearby coastline offers unique dining full of fresh seafood. The law school is a short drive from the downtown area that houses several art museums as well as unique shopping. Ample affordable housing is available in the many neighborhoods surrounding the law school campus. In all, Maine Law offers students a unique living experience to compliment their educational experience.