Founded in 1971 at Delaware’s first and only law school, the Widener University Delaware School of Law (Delaware Law) is one of two law schools associated with Widener University located in Chester, Pennsylvania. Delaware Law is located outside of Wilmington and the nation’s center for corporate headquarters. As the state’s only law school, Delaware Law plays a critical role in the state’s legal community. Before serving as U.S. Vice President, Senator Joe Biden taught classes at the school for almost 20 years. The law school has produced esteemed judges and politicians that have served several states including Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Delaware Law School has also produced two state supreme court justices–one in New Jersey and the other in Delaware.
The Juris Doctor degree at Delaware Law requires 90 hours of coursework of which over two-thirds is required. Students may earn their degree either through a traditional three year, full-time path or a part-time program that combines both day and evening courses. The first-year program at Delaware Law is comprised of core courses in civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Students are also required to substantive courses in criminal procedure, evidence, and professional responsibility. The require portion of the J.D. program also introduces students to core practical skills such as legal methodology (a three-semester course) and legal problem solving. All students at Delaware Law complete a course covering applied learning, a bar exam preparation course, an upper-level writing assignment, and six hours of experiential learning.
The remainder of the J.D. program–between 31 and 36 credits–is elective. Delaware Law offers all students several “signature” programs that allow students to focus their elective courses to prepare for their professional careers. The law school’s Institute of Delaware Corporate and Business Law is one of the foremost centers for training students in the area of corporate where the state of Delaware is the most important jurisdiction. The law school also offers programs in public service, environmental rights, family health law, and human dignity.
Delaware Law School offers a number of additional graduate programs for both lawyers and non-lawyers. For attorneys who have already earned their law degree, Delaware Law offers a Master of Law (LL.M) program with both residential and online programs. Residential LL.M candidates may choose to pursue a concentration in either corporate law & finance or American Legal Studies. The latter option is designed for both domestic and foreign-trained lawyers who wish to deepen their understanding of the American legal system to help prepare for their professional practice. The LL.M in Corporate Law & Finance prepares students to succeed in the complex legal environment of which Delaware Law is a leader. In the online LL.M program students may pursue either a general LL.M or a concentration in either Corporate Regulatory Analysis & Compliance or Health Law Regulatory Compliance. Both the online and the seated LL.M programs require 24 hours of coursework that, in general, is completed in one year. The online version allows students more flexibility.
Delaware Law also offers a Doctor of Juridical Science Degree that accepts students of exceptional academic background to pursue a dissertation in the fields of corporate or health law. The program requires both a J.D. and LL.M degree for admittance. Students complete 43-course credits over a period of three years including the completion of a dissertation. The S.J.D. program is designed for students who wish to pursue a career in legal academics.
Delaware Law also offers a Master of Jurisprudence for non-lawyers who wish to obtain a solid background in the legal field. The M.J. program offers students the opportunity to focus on the same areas as Delaware Law’s LL.M programs but does not require a J.D. for admission. Like the LL.M degree, the M.S. program may be completed online although the M.J. program requires 30 credit hours including courses that introduce non-lawyers to the principles of the American legal system.
Delaware Law also offers graduate-level certificates for professionals who wish to bolster their resume with a solid understanding of a variety of complex legal subjects. These programs are taught online and require 15 hours of coursework for completion.
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent employment outcome data, almost 85% of all Delaware Law graduates were employed within 10 months of graduation. Of those employed, nearly 88% found full-time, long-term careers that either required a law license or preferred a Juris Doctor degree. In terms of career choices, almost a third of employed graduates secured judicial clerkships in the state or local court system–reiterating the school’s importance to the local legal community. Over 40% of employed graduates opted for careers in law firms most in firms with less than 25 attorneys. The remaining employed graduates chose careers in the business sector (11%), government offices (7%), or the public interest sector (5%). The majority of graduates began their professional careers in either Pennsylvania or Delaware.
The Career Development Office (CDO) at Delaware Law works with students and alumni to achieve success throughout their careers. The staff at the CDO works with students to help identify various, meaningful career opportunities through individual counseling, workshops, and panel presentations. The CDO also emphasizes teaching students to use career related resources to help accelerate and maximize their career search strategies. Employers throughout the region seek Delaware Law students through their online job database.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Delaware Law students prepare for their professional careers through participation in the school’s clinical or externship program. The clinical program offers five different practice areas where students engage with real clients in a wide range of practice areas in both Delaware and Pennsylvania. In clinic, students work with veterans, survivors of domestic violence, clients involved in environmental issues, criminal defendants, and defendants who have been wrongly convicted and are appealing their sentences. All clinical programs combine a classroom component with actual field work where students learn to apply their classroom studies to real-world situations. Clinics to require some prerequisite and suggested coursework.
Delaware Law judicial externship program is an important part of the state court program. Law students function as part-time law clerks working with a range of judicial offices to do research, write memos, and assist judges in the work. Some students work in federal or special courts in the Delaware area.
Delaware Law also offers externships in the fields of public interest law as well as a variety of government and private law offices in the region.
While Delaware Law’s J.D. program requires residential coursework, their LL.M, M.J., and graduates certifications are all available online.
Located North of Wilmington, the campus of the Widener University Delaware Law School is located near the state’s border with Pennsylvania with excellent access to housing, dining, and shopping. The law school strives to be a community that includes students, professors, and the local legal community. On campus, students engage in various students organizations, write for the school’s law journal, and compete on any of Delaware Law’s many competition moot court teams.
The main campus of Widener University is only 20 minutes from the law school offering students additional amenities and housing options in nearby Chester, Pennsylvania. Both Chester and Wilmington rest on the banks of the Delaware River offering countless recreation opportunities from fishing and boating to an impressive selection of riverside dining. Whether students live in Delaware or Pennsylvania, they enjoy a vibrant area of the country with easy access to both the nation’s capital and the countries major cities such as Philadelphia and New York.