Founded in 1854, the University of Mississippi School of Law (Ole Miss Law) is one of the four oldest state-funded law schools in the country. The law school has moved six times in its long career before finally settling into its current home in 2011–the state-of-the-art Robert C. Khayat Law Center. In 1963, the first African-American student entered the law school as only the second to ever attend Ole Miss University. His roommate was James Meredith who famously integrated the University a year earlier. Just three years later, over a dozen African-American students enrolled in the law school. Today, the school’s diverse student body attends class in the recently constructed Robert C. Khayat Law Center. The law school’s list of alumni includes six Mississippi Supreme Court justices and eight former governors of the state.
The Juris Doctor program at Ole Miss Law requires 90 hours of residential coursework for completion. Over 30% of all credit hours are earned during the first year curriculum. Students are grounded in both academic and practical studies. All students take the six core courses of the American legal education: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. During both the fall and spring semesters, students take a foundational course in the skills of legal research and writing. During the winter session prior to their spring semester, students take an intensive, two-week skills course that covers the basics of contract drafting and negotiation.This combination of skills and academic courses reflects the school’s commitment to educating practice-ready attorneys.
Upper-class students are required to take a course in professional responsibility as well as a course in evidence. All students must meet the requirement to take at least one additional skill-based course (similar to the course in contract drafting and negotiation) and an upper-level writing course. Ole Miss Law also offers upper-class students five distinct concentrations that specify academic and skill courses to master a certain practice area. Of note is Ole Miss Law’s program in air and space law–the only of its kind in the country. The program combines traditional classroom studies with independent research and externships to build a solid foundation in this novel field of law.
Juris Doctor candidates at Ole Miss Law also have the option of pursuing a second professional degree concurrently with their law degree. These joint degree programs require admission to the both programs independently. Once admitted, students share certain courses to satisfy the requirement for both programs thereby reducing the total time to complete both programs. Ole Miss offers a joint degree program combining the J.D. with an M.B.A. from the business school or a Master of Taxation/Accountancy from the school of finance.
Ole Miss Law students also have the opportunity to study law abroad through a partnership with Cambridge University. Students spend a summer studying abroad at Downing College just north of London. Courses are taught four days per week allowing students the opportunity to explore the area on their long weekends.
Career and Career Placement
Over 92% of all graduates of Ole Miss Law are either employed or pursuing additional education within 10 months of graduation. The majority of graduates–82%–are employed in careers either requiring a law license or preferring a Juris Doctor degree. Traditional law firm work was the most popular profession with small law firms (1-10 attorneys) accounting for over 25% of all careers. Over 10% of students opted for careers in either the business sector or in government positions. Ole Miss Law–with a history of producing judges and justices–also secured judicial clerkships for over 10% of its graduates. Less than half of all graduates remained in Mississippi to begin their careers. Alabama and Tennessee were the most popular choices outside of Mississippi for graduates.
Two professionals in the Ole Miss Law Career Services center assist the small student body in charting their career paths. The Career Services Center offers students a range of programs and resources that help them secure employment upon graduation while also preparing them for their entire career life. Students learn how to master interview skills, build a professional network, and negotiate salaries. The Career Services Center also maintains a number of resources for students that allow them to perform self-assessments or explore alternative careers that are possible with a law degree.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Ole Miss Law begins the process of training lawyers to practice law in their first semester with skill-based courses including a two week intensive focused on contract drafting and negotiation. The skills session continue into the second and third year as all students are required to complete at least one additional skill session prior to graduation. All skill sessions allow students to master complex legal skills while working with students supervised by faculty experts.
Students at Ole Miss Law also have the opportunity to participate in the school’s clinical program. Ole Miss Law houses eight separate legal clinics that offer the surrounding community legal services. Students work with clients on a range of civil and criminal issues while supervised by practicing attorneys. As students learn to practice law, they also provide a critical service to low income community members.
Ole Miss Law also offers an externship program where students learn practical skills while working for a semester in a variety of legal offices. Externships are available throughout the state and include a range of legal offices from District Attorneys and Judges to corporate legal offices.
Ole Miss Law also has a robust trial advocacy program that allows students to compete in inter-school competitions while learning practical trial skills.
With a focus on building social and service connections, Ole Miss Law’s student body hosts a range of organizations and programs that build the school’s reputation for creating lasting professional and personal relationships while also taking seriously their commitment to giving back to the surrounding community. Students enjoy a host of dedicated resources on the modern campus including a plethora of student study spaces and an extensive law library. Additionally, students have access to the extensive resources on the main campus of Ole Miss.
The law school campus is located a short distance from the historic town of Oxford, Mississippi–one of the south’s most historic cities. Oxford is renowned for its literary and music history. The town is also home to several famous recording studios that have spilled over into a town full of music and music festivals. Downtown Oxford offers students a range of culinary offerings especially some centered on authentic Southern Fare. Oxford is also surrounded by National Forests and a short drive from the city of Memphis, Tennessee.