The University of Tennessee-Knoxville College of Law (Tennessee Law) was founded in 1890. The law school is located on the main campus of the university just a few blocks from the university’s storied football stadium that sits on the banks of the Tennessee River. The law school offers admission to roughly 35% of its annual applicants. Tennessee Law also operates the longest continuously running clinical program in the country. The program is also considered one of the best in the country. The law school has graduated a number of notable alumni including former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Perry J. White as well as John Ward, better known as “The Voice of the Volunteers,” who announced the Tennessee Volunteers football games for over 30 years.
The first-year curriculum at Tennessee Law is unique in that only five core courses are taught between both semesters. Additionally, three of the five core courses are taught in both semesters: civil procedure, contracts, and torts. The other two–criminal law and property- are taught in the fall and spring semester, respectively. First-year students also take a two-semester course covering the legal process.
After completion of the first-year curriculum, the only required courses are a four-credit course in constitutional law and a course in professional responsibility. Students must also complete a major writing assignment and a substantial planning and drafting project. The latter is a project that anticipates solutions to legal problems that have not yet occurred such as in a will or contract. All students must also satisfy the requirement for experiential, skill-based work as well as take one course focused on legal systems other than the United States.
Upper-class students do have the option of following one of Tennessee Law’s two areas of concentration: dispute resolution or business transactions. These concentrations provide students with a road map of course work and skill-based learning that prepares them to become specialists in two of the most employable practice areas in the modern legal world. Each concentration also has several “capstone” courses that are advanced, intense courses that pull together the range of skills studied in each concentration.
Tennessee Law also offers students an accelerated path to earning a Juris Doctor degree that allows students to graduate a semester early by taking advantage of summer and winter courses. In the alternative, the law school also has a flexible J.D. program where students can take fewer hours but additional semesters to complete their degree.
Tennessee Law also offers a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree with a focus on U.S. business laws. The program is offered for both graduates of Juris Doctor program or the foreign equivalent. The program is a year-long study of U.S. business taught in 11 required courses. LL.M students are immersed in Tennessee Law’s Clayton Center for Entrepreneurial Law that has a built a national reputation for graduating business attorneys who specialize in the growing field of entrepreneurial law.
For Juris Doctor candidates, Tennessee Law also offers four dual degree programs that allow students to couple their J.D. with another professional degree. Students study each program concurrently allowing for certain courses to satisfy requirements for both programs. This allows students to not only complete both programs in less time but also gain insight into the interplay between law and other disciplines. Dual degrees include a joint J.D. and M.B.A. program in conjunction with the business school or a joint J.D. and Master of Public Health.
Career and Career Placement
Within 10 months of graduation, over 92% of graduates of Tennessee Law–on average–are employed in careers that either requires a law license or prefers a Juris Doctor degree. Over 30% of those graduates chose traditional law firm work for their first careers. Small law firms (less than 25 attorneys) were three times more popular than law firms of 250 attorneys. Over 10% of graduates pursued careers in either the business sector or in a government office. Tennesee and neighboring North Carolina accounted for 90% of graduates choice of residence.
At Tennessee Law, the Bettye B. Lewis Career Center provides students with a range of services to guide them through the transition from their academics to their professional careers. Individual counseling begins during the first year of law school as the counseling staff–who have over 50 combined years of success–begins to map out a career path for each student. The Career Center presents a number of live workshops and webinars throughout the year to help students build critical job-seeking skills. The Career Center also houses a myriad of resources including a robust job bank and a vast alumni network.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Experiential learning at Tennessee Law happens throughout students’ careers and through a number of programs. Primarily, students learn practical skills through the law school’s clinical program, ranked as one of the top ten programs in the nation. The legal clinic offers students eight different practice areas to hone skills in a variety of legal situations while working with real clients. Student-attorneys are always supervised by practicing faculty members. The clinic also offers two practicum courses that simulate complex, real-world problems in the fields of environmental and education law. By presenting complex problems, students are able to learn strategies and advocacy prior in a controlled, educational setting.
Tennessee Law students may also opt to spend a semester in an externship either in a prosecutor or public defender role. These semester provide students with a first-hand glimpse at the daily role of lawyers while they simultaneously translate their classroom skills to the real-world.
Students interested in practices outside of litigation can opt for a field placement in a private law office.
Tennessee Law requires students to complete almost all of their coursework in residence. Their flexible J.D. program does allow for part-time completion of the degree.
With five student-run journals and almost 30 organizations, Tennessee Law offers students a myriad of opportunities outside the classroom to build a healthy balance between academics, career, and personal life. Law students are part of the greater university and participate in all the excitement of Tennessee’s many renowned sports team. The main campus offers a wide range of eateries and wellness facilities. The law school offers all students an opportunity to compete for the moot court or write onto one of the journals.
The town of Knoxville, Tennessee is a gateway to music, outdoor recreation, and nightlife. The downtown–just minutes from the law school–offers students a diverse and eclectic mixture of bars and restaurants. The city is renowned for its diverse and vibrant music scene as well as its proximity to the majestic Smokey Mountains. There are countless affordable housing options in the city.