The University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law (Mizzou Law) started with a student body of 25 students in 1872. Founded by the Curators of the University of Missouri to meet the increasing demand for formally trained lawyers, Mizzou Law has since grown into a student body of over 300 students and is one of the most important law schools in the region. The school of law is noteworthy for its highly regarded program in alternative dispute resolution as well as its remarkably high bar passage rate. Mizzou Law also publishes a law journal focused on alternative dispute resolution–one of the most important academic journals on the subject. The school of law has produced three Chief Justices of the Missouri Supreme Court, four former governors of the State of Missouri, and in 1902 awarded an honorary degree to Samuel L. Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.
Juris Doctor candidates at Mizzou Law are required to complete 89 hours of coursework. Almost half of their courses are prescribed including the entire first-year curriculum. In their first two semesters, students receive instruction in five core courses: civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Students take additional skill-based courses that cover both legal research and writing as well as a two-semester course on lawyering. During their first semester, students are introduced to various perspectives on the law through a course covering the foundations of legal studies.
Upper-class students are required to take courses in constitutional law, evidence, criminal procedure, and professional responsibility. Students must also satisfy the requirement to complete a major writing assignment as well complete at least six hours of experiential learning.
The school of law offers two concentrations–criminal justice and tax law–and one notable certification program in their esteemed dispute resolution program. Students who follow this certification program graduate with a certificate that indicates their proficiency in handling a variety of dispute resolution techniques.
In addition to the Juris Doctor program, Mizzou Law offers two Master of Laws (LL.M) degrees. First, the school of law offers an LL.M degree with a concentration in dispute resolution. This program offers both a one-year residential program or a two-year online program. Both options require 24 hours of coursework for completion.
For internationally educated law students, Mizzou Law also offers an LL.M focused on the American legal system. This program ground foreign-trained lawyers in the fundamentals of the U.S. legal system. The program requires only two mandatory courses and allows students to focus the remainder of their studies on their own areas of interest.
Juris Doctor students at Mizzou Law also have the option of completing two professional degrees concurrently through the school of law’s joint degree program. J.D. candidates can also pursue one of nine other professional degree including an M.B.A. through the business school, a Masters in economics, or a graduate degree in library science. By pursuing both degrees concurrently, students not only save time in completing both programs but gain additional insights into the overlap between two disciplines.
Career and Career Placement
Over 85% of all graduates of Mizzou Law are employed in careers either requiring a law license or preferring a law degree within 10 months of graduation. A small group of students also pursue additional education or professional positions outside the legal field. Ultimately, almost 97% of all graduates are employed or pursuing additional degrees within 10 months of graduation. Mizzou Law graduates pursued a range of careers with small law firm work, government positions, and careers in the business sector being the three most popular choices (each accounting for 15% of graduates). Almost 70% of graduates remained in Missouri to begin their careers–cementing Mizzou Law as one of the most important law schools in the region.
The Career Development Office at Mizzou Law serve the small student body with a team of professionals who meet individually with every student to chart a path to a rewarding career. The CDO organizes all on-campus interviews and hosts a range of programs to help students prepare resumes and polish interview skills. The CDO also encourages students to participate in the school’s robust Pro Bono program which not only provides them with invaluable practical experience but increases their professionalism.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
To gain practical experience, Mizzou Law offers students a range of opportunities both in and outside the classroom. For students who wish to work with real clients, Mizzou Law has six legal clinics where students handle real cases while working under the supervision of faculty experts. Clinical experiences range from mediation to working on veteran affairs.
Students may also work in a legal office outside of the law school through the semester-in-practice externship. The program places students in legal office–of all types–throughout the state of Missouri where students earn academic credit while working alongside practicing attorneys. Students may even apply for international externships in South Africa.
Mizzou Law also offers classroom practicums in landlord-tenant law and legislative work. In practicums, students tackle advance lawyering skills under the safety of faculty experts.
Students may also earn experiential education credits through the school’s competitive mock trial and moot court teams.
Student life at Mizzou Law is tight-knit and collegial. The small student-body coalesces around their shared values of community service and passion for the law. The law school offers students a range of health and wellness services including counseling services. Situated on the main campus in Columbia, Missouri, students also enjoy a host of amenities offered to all Mizzou students. The law schools is short walk from both the student center–which provides a range of on-campus dining–and the university’s state-of-the-art exercise facility.
Columbia, Missouri is a classic college town with a population of 115,000 residents most of who are affiliated with the university. Housing is widely available as is access to the regions astounding park system. The Missouri River is a short drive away and Columbia is midway from St. Louis and Kansas City, both cities offering law students the opportunity for additional recreation, shopping, and entertainment.