The West Virginia University College of Law (WVU Law) has been educating attorneys in the state for over 125 years. Over its long history, the law school has been housed in several locations before moving to its current home on the Evansdale Campus in 1974. In 2012, the facility underwent a $28 million renovation that expanded and upgraded the facility. In 1990, the West Virginia Court of Appeals began a yearly tradition of hearing cases in the law school’s courtroom. As the only law school in the state, WVU Law has been the driving force in the state’s legal community. The law school has educated seven governors of the state, 15 justices of the state Supreme Court, and two United States Senators.
The Juris Doctor program at WVU Law requires 91 credit hours for graduation of which 32 are completed in the required first-year curriculum. During the first semester, students take four core academic subjects: civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, and property. During their second semester, students continue their study of civil procedure while also studying constitutional law, property, and legislation and regulation. All students take a course introducing the fundamental skills of legal reasoning, research, and writing that spans both of their first two semesters.
After the first year, students have several additional core course requirements: appellate advocacy, professional responsibility, a course covering legal perspectives, and a seminar course. Seminar courses present students with in-depth study of a narrow field of law and often include a substantial writing component. All students must also satisfy at least one course or program from four different foundational areas: trial advocacy and evidence; the clinical program and evidence; business transaction drafting; and the federal externship program and evidence. This requirement partners academic work with skill-based learning outside the classroom.
The rest of the Juris Doctor curriculum is elective in nature although WVU Law also offers students four distinct concentrations that prepare them for specific practice areas: energy & sustainable development law; international law; labor & employment law; and, public interest law. These concentrations function much like an undergraduate major and suggest a course of study so that students are prepared to succeed in a specific area of the law.
Along with its Juris Doctor program, WVU offers a Master of Law (LL.M) degree in three areas of concentration: energy and sustainable development, forensic justice, and white collar forensic justice. The LL.M program requires a year of residential coursework and provides students who have already earned their J.D. with the foundational coursework in the subject area. Each of three concentrations are novel practice areas which WVU Law identified as needing advanced academic training for success. The LL.M, therefore, prepares students to practice in areas of the law that need specialized attorneys.
WVU Law offers its Juris Doctor candidates the unique opportunity to earn a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree in conjunction with their J.D. The program is focused on energy and sustainable development. To earn both degrees, students complete additional studies beyond those required for a J.D. that typically takes an additional semester of study.
J.D. candidates may also pair their law degree with two other non-legal graduate degrees. Students have the option of pursuing a joint J.D. and Master of Business Administration or a joint J.D. and Master of Public Administration. The joint M.B.A. program may be completed in three total years as the M.B.A. portion is taught online. The joint M.P.A. program generally takes four years to 115 hours required as credits are shared between both programs. Pursuing the programs separately would require 130 hours.
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent employment outcome statistics, almost 85% of all WVU Law graduates secure long-term, full-time employment within 10 months of graduation. The overwhelming majority of students who started careers found employment either requiring a law license (79%) or preferring a law degree (9%). Just under 40% of those employed found work in traditional law firms with small law firms being more popular than larger firms. WVU Law’s important role in the state’s court system is evidence by the number of students–just under 20%–who secured clerkships in the federal or state court system. Substantial portions of students opted for careers in the business sector (15%) and government or public interest positions (17%). Statistically, three-quarters of graduates remained in the state of West Virginia to begin their professional careers.
WVU Law’s Meredith Career Services Center (MCSS) provides the bridge for students to transition from their academic careers into their professional lives. The MCSS works closely with the academic department to make sure all students are prepared for their careers with a mixture of classroom and experiential learning. The MCSS also provides students with individual and group counseling sessions, preparation for on-campus interviews including mock interviews and resume preparation, workshops to hone students professional attire and etiquette, and programs to expand students career options. WVU Law maintains a dedicated database of jobs targeted specifically at their students.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
For over 40 years, WVU Law has provided a clinical law program that provides over 40,000 hours of pro bono legal services the surrounding community every year. WVU Law students work alongside law professors to provide legal service to the real clients in a variety of capacities ranging from criminal defense to entrepreneurship clinics where students work with business start-ups. These clinical programs have received national recognition for their service to low-income clients. Through their participation, students learn critical skills of representation and advocacy.
WVU Law’s externship program moves the clinical experience off-campus to external field placements. Externships offer WVU Law students placements in a variety of government, public interest, and other legal offices where students spend a semester working alongside practicing attorneys. Students may work in either part-time or full-time externship programs.
Both the externship and clinical programs at WVU Law are tied to classroom components which provides an innovative way for students to transfer the classroom studies to the actual practice of law.
WVU Law students enjoy a campus that is active and engaged. The school offers numerous co-curricular activities including the student-run West Virginia Law Review, competitive trial advocacy and moot court teams, and an array of student organizations that foster long lasting relationships as classmates become colleagues. The main campus of the West Virginia University provides a wealth of resources from recreation and exercise facilities to dining to student health services.
The law school at West Virginia University is on the main campus in the heart of Morgantown along the banks of the stunning Monongahela River. Surrounded the campus are wide range of affordable housing options for students set in a vibrant and unique college town. Morgantown is the heart of Mountaineer country. The famed mountains and country roads of West Virginia lead students into the wilderness that surrounds the city.