Located at over 7,000 feet of elevation, the University of Wyoming College of Law (Wyoming Law) is the only law school in the state. Founded in 1922, the law school moved to its current location in the 1970s. The facility was renovated 20 years later at the college of law expanded to accommodate the increased interest in legal education. The upgraded facility now contains multiple large classrooms as well as smaller seminar rooms, the law library, and a mock courtroom. The law library is one of the most important legal resources in the state and serves not only the college but the general legal community of Wyoming. The college of law plays a critical role in the state’s legal community. Among its alumni are numerous governors of the state, several state Supreme Court justices, and multiple U.S. senators and congressmen.
Wyoming Law’s Juris Doctor program requires 90 hours of coursework for completion of the program of which 14 courses are mandatory. Twelve of these courses are completed as part of the first-year curriculum. In their first two semesters, students are introduced to the foundational subjects of the American legal system: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Students also take a two-semester course covering the subject of legal writing as well as a semester study on the fundamentals of legal research.
During the second year, students complete their required courses with a semester on evidence and a semester studying professional responsibility. After completing the required courses, students are free to choose electives from Wyoming Law’s course catalog. The law school does offer students the opportunity to earn a certificate in energy, environmental, and natural resources law (EENR)–an area of the law where Wyoming Law is notably strong. All students must complete an upper-level writing assignment and fulfill the requirement for six credits of experiential education.
Juris Doctor candidates at Wyoming Law may also pair their J.D. with one of three other professional degrees. Joint degree programs offer students several benefits. First and foremost, students share credits between programs which allows them to earn both degrees in less time than pursuing them separately. Second, students gain an interdisciplinary view of the law affording them additional insights into the law. Finally, joint degrees bolster a graduate’s resume as they transition to their professional careers. At Wyoming Law, students may pair their J.D. with a Masters in Environment and Natural Resources, a Master of Business Administration, or a Master of Public Administration.
During the summer, Wyoming Law offers students a unique two-week intensive that covers trial law skills. This program is taught by the best practicing attorneys as well as faculty experts and prepares students for the rigors of litigation.
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent employment outcomes, over 91% of all graduates of Wyoming Law are employed within 10 months of graduation in long-term, full-time employment. Most employed graduates find careers that either requires a law license (85%) or prefer a Juris Doctor degree (12.5%). The most common career choice for graduates was to work in a small law firm of 1 to 10 attorneys (25%). The second most common choice was government or public interest sector work (24%). Almost 23% of graduates were able to secure judicial clerkships in federal or state courts. Over 15% of graduates pursue careers in the business sector. Just over 50% of all graduates remained in Wyoming to begin their careers with nearby Colorado also attracting a substantial number of graduates (24%).
The Wyoming Law Career & Professional Development Office (CPDO) works with every student to develop their own career path. This process begins with career advising sessions where students to begin to identify their professional aspirations which also shape their academic coursework. Aside from administering on-campus interviews and hosting a number of job search resources, the CPDO also works with students to develop their professional profiles through networking and programming events. As evidenced by their employment outcomes, the CPDO also works with students interested in applying for judicial clerkships as Wyoming Law’s graduates continue to play an important role in the state judiciary.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Wyoming Law has developed a reputation as a leader in the practical education of lawyers. Their experiential education program includes an active clinical program, the unique summer trial experience, praticum courses, and external field placements. The clinical provides students with six different practice areas where they fully engage with real clients in all facets of their cases. Practice areas include criminal defense, civil services, family law, prosecution assistance, international human rights, and their outstanding program in energy, environmental, and natural resources clinic. Students work alongside faculty experts who oversee the students case as they master the fundamental skills of client representation.
Wyoming Law offers two practicums: one in estate planning and the other in business law. These skill-based courses allow students to tackle complex, multi-faceted legal issues while still working in the safety of a classroom under faculty supervision. The practicum mimics real-world situations that allow students to master these complex legal skills. As previously noted, the summer trial institute operates as a two-week intensive practicum where students work through the entire trial process with local criminal attorneys.
Wyoming Law also offers students the opportunity to earn credit and develop their professional skills through a legal externship. The external field placements put students in local legal offices including judicial, government, or non-profit offices. Each year, the law school hosts an externship fair to allow students to network and find opportunities for external field placements.
Wyoming Law requires residential coursework for its degree programs.
Wyoming Law’s campus embraces its informal motto of “law at the highest point.” Set in the upper stretches of the Rocky Mountains, the law school campus is part of the University of Wyoming’s unique and engaged campus. The law school offers students a range of co-curricular activities including a number of student organizations, a nationally competitive moot court and trial advocacy program, and numerous opportunities to engage with their classmates in social and extra-curricular programs.
Life in Laramie, Wyoming is as unique as any place in the United States. As one of the highest towns in the country, students enjoy a life immersed in the mountains. The campus is surrounded by wilderness and offers easy access to the Rocky Mountains and its spectacular views and winter snow skiing. The small town is notably active and the university plays a large role in town life. Housing is affordable and abundantly available near campus. When students yearn for more metropolitan amenities, the metropolis of Denver is less than two hours away. For students who love the outdoors, Wyoming Law is a perfect haven to study law and enjoy the wilderness.