The Wake Forest University School of Law (Wake Forest Law), founded in 1894, was originally located in the small hamlet of Wake Forest, North Carolina. In 1956, the entire university moved to its current home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina–over 100 miles west of the original school. Today, the school of law is well known for its notably small classes and distinguished alumni. In its long history, Wake Forest law has produced two former Chief Justices of the NC Supreme Court as well as one former Chief Justice of the West Virginia Appellate Court. Wake Law accepts just over half of all applicants to its comparatively small incoming classes of under 150 students each fall.
The first-year curriculum at Wake Forest Law is prescribed for all students. Students take two semesters of civil procedure, contracts, and professional development. Students also take four semester-long courses in constitutional law, criminal law, property, and torts. Practical skill-based learning in the first year with two-semester courses in legal writing, legal research, and professional development.
Substantively, upper-level students are only required to take three additional courses: a semester in administrative law, the second semester of constitutional law, and a semester in evidence. Wake Forest Law also requires all students to satisfy an upper-level writing requirement, an upper-level research course, and to complete at least six hours of experiential education. In total, students must complete 90 hours of coursework.
Wake Forest Law offers two additional graduate degree targeted at international students who did not receive their Juris Doctor in the United States. The first is the Master of Law (LL.M) program which is a one year program designed for international students who either want to familiarize themselves with American jurisprudence or who want to concentrate on a particular practice areas. Wake Forest Law offers four areas of concentration for LL.M students as well as a summer course that targets English language fluency in the legal profession.
Wake Forest Law also admits a small number of students in their Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D) program. The Doctorate is designed for students who wish to publish a dissertation on a legal subject of academic importance.
For non-attorneys, Wake Forest Law also has a flexible, online Master of Studies in Law (M.S.L.) program which allows professionals in other fields to understand the intersection of law with their own field. The program is designed to be as flexible as possible–it is both part-time and online three starting dates each year.
Career and Career Placement
The most recent statistics from Wake Forest Law indicate that almost 94% of graduates were employed within 10 months of completing their coursework. Over 98% of those that were employed found work in careers that either required a law license or Juris Doctor degree. The most popular career path for graduates was big law firms of 500+ attorneys (17.8%) followed by judicial clerkships (16%) and small law firms of 2-10 attorneys (14.5%). Notably, Wake Forest Law graduates also pursued careers in government and business positions (12% for both). Nearly 50% of all graduates remained in North Carolina for their first careers with New York and Washington, D.C. as the next most common choices.
The Wake Forest Law Office of Career & Professional Development (OCPD) staffs eight full-time professionals including counselors dedicated to public interest jobs as well increasing diversity and inclusive hiring among alumni. With its small student body, the OCPD values personal interaction with all students as they plot a career path that matches students’ passion with their academics and strengths. The OCPD organizes career fairs, executes the on-campus interview process, and provides a host of self-assessment and career resources.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Through a mixture of its legal clinics and field placements, Wake Forest Law offers its students the ability to build practical skills to prepare them for their careers as attorneys. Wake Forest Law’s six legal clinics cover a diverse set of practice areas from child advocacy to micro-trade. Working alongside faculty experts in various fields, students work with actual clients to solve a range of legal problems.
The field placement (or immersion) program at Wake Forest Law allows students to spend a semester in an office working with real clients on a range of legal issues. Placement are available throughout the Carolinas or in remote locations including Washington, D.C. or as far away as Geneva, Switzerland.
Throughout their coursework and time at Wake Forest Law, students also build practical skills through their three semesters of legal writing and research coursework and through participation of the school’s many competitive moot court and mock trial teams.
Although Wake Forest Law’s Juris Doctor program requires residential coursework, their M.S.L. program is a distance learning degree.
Wake Forest Law’s small student body provides a close, supportive atmosphere where students can take advantage of the wide array of legal and social interest organizations. Students also give generously of their time and legal skills to the school’s Pro Bono program which servers local community in Winston-Salem. On campus, students enjoy an on-site cafe or any of the many restaurants on the main campus. Wake Forest University also provides a wealth of facilities including a state-of-the-art health and wellness facility. The Demon Deacons–member of the Atlantic Coast Conference–provide entertainment for all students.
In Winston-Salem, students enjoy a low cost of living in a town that has long celebrated the performing arts. The city is located in close proximity to its neighbors, Greensboro and Charlotte. The famed North Carolina mountains are only an hour away and Mount Pilot is visible from campus. Housing in abundant in the many apartments and houses in the campus area.