The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Law (UNC Law) was established in 1845 as the first law school in the state and one of the first public law schools in the country. The law school is consistently ranked as one of the top schools in the country and enrolls less than 15% of its applicants each fall. UNC Law is the dominant force in the state legal community. Its alumni make up over 40% of the practicing attorneys in the state. Its prominence is also reflected in politics as five of the last six governors have been graduates as well as numerous U.S. Senators and the majority of the NC Supreme Court.
The first-year curriculum at UNC Law grounds students in the six core courses of American jurisprudence: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Students also take a two-semester course that covers legal research, reasoning, writing, and analysis. The first-year class of roughly 180 students is divided into small sections of 30 students who take their first-year courses together. These smaller sections allow students to engage more with their professors and classmates as they tackle the first year of their legal education.
Upper-class students at UNC Law have several required courses during their final two years including a course in professional responsibility, six hours of experiential, skill-based courses, and multiple writing credit courses that involve a substantial written project. Students choose from UNC Law’s extensive course catalog that includes over 60 skill-based courses and subject matter coursework in almost every practice area.
Students may also opt to take up to six hours of coursework from other graduate schools subject to the Dean’s approval.
UNC Law offers students 10 different dual degree programs that allow students to combine their Juris Doctor coursework with another professional program. Most programs combine the J.D. with a Masters degree although students may also earn a Ph.D. in Mass Communications. For all dual degrees, students must be accepted into both programs. The first year of study is directed at completing the first-year law school curriculum. Students then spend the second year focusing on their other degree before combining their studies in their remaining years (usually 2-3 additional years of studies).
Career and Career Placement
In the first 10 months after graduation, upwards of 92% of UNC Law graduates are employed in a job that either requires a law license or prefers a Juris Doctor. More than 25% of graduates accepted positions in law firms with over 250 attorneys. Graduates also notably chose positions in the business sector as well as government offices. Almost 15% of graduates accepted judicial clerkships most in the Federal court system. While North Carolina was the most common destination for graduates to begin their careers, it is noteworthy that more than 50% of graduates choose to practice outside of the state.
The UNC Law Career Center staff eight full-time professionals including counselors whose focus is on public interest careers and increasing diversity hires among its alumni and graduates. UNC Law’s diversity initiatives liaises with student organizations that represent the school’s diverse student body. The Career Center also organizes all on-campus and off-campus interviews. The center programs over 80 events per year including etiquette dinners, career fairs, and mock interview programs.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
With over 60 courses based on building practical skills as well as an clinical program featuring 10 different legal clinics, UNC Law offers its students a range of options to build their practical skills through experiential education. Students who opt to work in a clinic earn six credit hours working over the course of semester with faculty experts as they handle real legal problems in a variety of practice areas. As an alternative, students may choose to take one of UNC Law’s 130 externships in a variety of offices in both private and public practice areas. In a semester-long externship, students are immersed in a practice to help put their academic work into the real world.
Students at UNC Law may also participate in one of the schools many competition teams for Moot Court or Trial Advocacy which build practical skills in the area of advocacy.
UNC Law requires residential coursework for all its Juris Doctor cnadidates.
Life at UNC Law blends a robust, active campus with a deep commitment to social change and activism. UNC Law students engage with their peers in a myriad of student organizations as well as popular social events such as the annual Barrister’s Ball or the Law Revue, the school’s annual talent show. The law school sits on the eastern edge of campus overlooking some of UNC’s many athletic fields and is a short distance away from both the football and basketball stadiums where the UNC Tarheels play. Law students are a part of the Carolina tradition.
The town of Chapel Hill is known for its small stature but a big attitude. Franklin Street runs through the center of town offering a wide variety of award-winning cuisine. The street continues into Carborro where students can find ample housing in close proximity to the law school. Carborro is also home to the “Cat’s Cradle”–one of the South’s most legendary music venues. Nearby Durham and Raleigh offer additional metropolitan amenities including North Carolina’s renowned museums and Umstead Park–an 8,000-acre state park only 25 minutes from campus.