The Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law (Villanova Law) began in 1951 and is one of the top Catholic law schools in the country. The law school celebrates its “Augustinian” intellectual tradition–a tradition that combines rigorous academics with compassion for the impoverished and vulnerable. In 2009, the law school moved into its new home, a LEED-certified building that incorporates the beauty of the surrounding landscape. In 2012, Jeffrey S. Moorad–the CEO of the San Diego Padres and alumnus–donated money to start a center dedicated to the study of sports law. Other notable alumni include Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania, and William H. Ryan, J.R., the current attorney general of Pennsylvania.
The first-year curriculum at Villanova Law is rooted in the instruction of six fundamental courses of legal education: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. These core courses are complemented by a series of unique classes that emphasize practical skills for ethical lawyering. First-year students work in small classes for a year mastering the basics of legal writing and research. Research courses work with Villanova Law’s library staff to master the principles of legal research. Students also take a year-long course in professional development as well as a one-week intensive in January of their first year that covers the basics of financial literacy required for a lawyer. First-year students are also permitted to take one elective course during their spring semester.
In their upper years, law students are required to take a second semester of constitutional law, a course in professional responsibility, and complete a final semester of legal writing focusing on either transactional writing or litigation. Along with specific courses, students must also complete an upper-level writing assignment, six credits of experiential education, another week-long intensive (this one focused on the business of being a lawyer), and an additional course in professional development.
Villanova Law also offers 15 different focus areas for students to tailor a more narrow approach to their legal education. Each focus area suggests coursework, experiential education, and additional programs that benefit students who are drawn to a certain practice area.
Villanova Law offers a Master of Laws (LL.M) program focused on taxation for students who have already earned their J.D. and a Masters of Taxation for students who do not possess a J.D. The LL.M requires 24 hours for completion; the Master of Taxation requires 30 hours. Both programs can be completed in residential coursework online. These graduate programs rely on Villanova’s faculty experts with decades of experience in the fields of taxation and accounting.
Juris Doctor candidates at Villanova Law have a unique opportunity to earn both the J.D. and an LL.M from an international law school through a study abroad program. Villanova Law has six different partner schools around the world who offer a variety of focus areas for their LL.M programs. Students apply for the program during their second year at Villanova and, if accepted, spend their third-year studying abroad. Credits earned for their LL.M also count towards the completion of their Juris Doctor degree.
Villanova Law also offers a variety of joint degrees in partnership with other professional schools at the University. Students work on both programs concurrently such that credits earned count towards both degrees. Joint degrees include combining the J.D. with an MBA or a Master of Public Administration.
Career and Career Placement
Within 10 months of graduation, 96% of Villanova Law graduates are employed in careers that either requires a law license or prefer candidates with a Juris Doctor degree. Graduates show remarkable diversity in their career choices. Traditional law firm work was the most common choice, however, students opted for all sized law firms. Impressively, over 15% of graduates accepted positions in state or local judicial offices as clerks. The business sector was also a popular destination with over 10% of graduates opting for these careers. Over 10% of graduates also chose careers in either government offices or in the public sector. Most graduates stayed in Pennsylvania to start their careers or opted for jobs in nearby Deleware or New Jersey.
Villanova Law’s success in career placement is due–in part–to folding career development into the first and second-year curriculum. By building career development into the academic program, Villanova Law students start planning their careers immediately. Additionally, the Office of Career Strategy & Advancement (OCSA) offers students support and programming throughout their time at Villanova (and as alumni) as they prepare to enter the legal market. The OCSA engages students in self-assessment programs to emphasize matching their career choices with their skills and passions. The OCSA also administers on-campus interviews and networking events for students and alumni.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
At Villanova Law, students learn not only the law but how to be lawyers through practical skill-based programs. Villanova Law offers students six legal clinics where students work under supervision of faculty experts as they engage with real clients for the first time. Once students master basics, Villanova Law also offers an advanced clinic where students can participate in actual courtroom work.
Villanova Law also has one of the most extensive programs for legal externships in the country. The law schools offers over 50 field placements each year where law students work alongside practice lawyers as they learn to apply their classroom studies into the actual practice of the law. Students may also build their own externship under the supervision of faculty members.
Villanova Law offers two graduate programs in taxation both of which can be completed online.
Student Life at Villanova law reflects the school’s motto: Veritas, Unitas, Carita (truth, unity, and love). Villanova Law’s diverse student body unifies over their shared passion as expressed in the wide range of student-run organizations and events. The law school student body works through pro bono efforts to provide legal representation to the most vulnerable citizens. Each year, the law school hosts programs and conferences to promote and understand laws that protect religious freedom. All of these opportunities reflect the active and engaged student body.
The law school is part of one of the most exciting universities in the country. Set in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia, law students enjoy one of America’s most historical cities. “Philly” is filled with art, a famous culinary tradition, and professional and collegiate sports. Affordable housing is available in the immediate area of the university or in the greater metropolitan area. When students need a break, the famous Jersey Shore or New York City are both short drives from campus.