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Graduation Requirements

A total of 88 semester hours of credit (90 hours of credit beginning with the class of 2022) with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 is required for graduation. No more than 18 semester hours of ungraded credit in residence may be counted toward the required 88 semester hours (90 hours beginning with the class of 2022) for graduation. For this purpose, “semester hours of ungraded credit in residence” means all work recorded in the student records on a pass/fail or credit/no-credit basis, but does not include transferred credit allowed for graded non-law school courses or graded courses taken at another law school.

The following courses are currently required for graduation:

  • Introduction to Law
  • Civil Procedure
  • Property
  • Constitutional Law I
  • Constitutional Law II*
  • Advanced Legal Writing requirement
  • Contracts
  • Torts
  • Legal Methods
  • Legal Research
  • Criminal Law
  • Legal Profession
  • Six (6) experiential education credits

*Required second year

**Required fall semester of second year

A Student must earn at least 64 credits through courses that require attendance at regularly scheduled classroom session or direct faculty instruction (ABA Standard 311).  Courses that MAY NOT count toward the 64 credits include: (1) Externship Credit (2) intramural competitions (e.g., Traynor Moot Court), (3) publications (e.g., Law Review), and (4) graduate course credit earned outside the law school (see Academic Policies and Procedures § 4, Non-Law School Credit).

The law school registers students for all first year courses. First year students may not register for upper division classes.

First year law students begin fall classes one week prior to the beginning of the regular fall semester with an Orientation and Introduction to Law Week. Orientation provides in-coming students with basic information of how the law school functions and includes mandatory sessions on setting up computer accounts, exam policies, academic discipline policies, and financial aid. Introduction to Law, taught by the law school faculty, is a pass/fail course which is required for graduation. Introduction to Law acquaints first year students with methods of legal study and provides them with a preview of the coming year. The week is rounded out with social events sponsored by the law school and student organizations.

First year students may choose to take part in the law school’s Academic Support Program (“ASP”). ASP is a program designed to give additional support to students as they make the transition from undergraduate studies, work and/or family responsibilities to the demanding life of a first year law student. ASP does this primarily through a structured series of small study groups.

Each student must demonstrate competence in legal research and writing by successfully completing (1) the First Year Legal Writing Requirement and (2) both components of the Advanced Legal Writing Requirement for Second and Third Year Students.
A. First Year Legal Writing Requirement – The first year Legal Methods course.
B. Advanced Legal Writing Requirement for Second and Third Year Students
1. A Seminar Paper.
a. The Seminar Paper shall meet the following criteria:
i. Address a significant issue or set of issues related to law.
ii. Provide original, in-depth, and critical analysis of the issue, including doctrinal, comparative, institutional, interdisciplinary, theoretical, and/or policy analysis. The paper shall not merely describe, survey, or summarize legal materials or existing scholarship.
iii. Demonstrate substantial legal research, evidenced by extensive, relevant, and supportive citations to diverse sources.
iv. Be written logically, clearly, and concisely, with proper grammar and spelling.
v. Consist of at least 7,000 words, excluding footnotes, endnotes, and/or bibliography.
vi. Meet all standards of academic integrity.
vii. Receive a minimum grade of B.
b. The following steps shall be taken in preparing the Seminar Paper:
i. The student shall develop the paper topic in consultation with a faculty member.
ii. If the paper involves research on human subjects, the student shall obtain prior approval from the University of Utah Institutional Review Board (IRB).
iii. The faculty member shall review and comment extensively on at least one complete draft of the paper and should encourage multiple drafts.
iv. The student shall revise the paper in response to faculty review and comment.
v. The faculty member shall require that the paper be reviewed using plagiarism detection software before submitting a final grade.
vi. The faculty member shall review and grade the final draft of the paper.

c. The Seminar Paper requirement will presumptively be satisfied by producing the paper in a Seminar (Law 7800) course.
d.  The Seminar Paper may also satisfied by producing a paper for:
i.  a think tank;
ii. a course taught by a tenured, tenure track, or other full-time faculty member in which a Seminar Paper option is offered (for a list of such courses, contact the Associate Dean for Students or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs); or
iii. subject to the approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, a Student Directed Research Project that both (I) replicates the rigor of a Seminar Paper and (ii) fills a clearly defined gap that is not otherwise met by the law school curriculum.
e. A seminar course (Law 7800) will automatically fulfill the Seminar Paper requirement.  However, Seminar Papers written for a think tank or other course (categories 5.B.1.d.i and ii above) or as a Directed Research project (category 5.B.1.d.iii above) shall be deemed satisfied when a faculty member certifies to the Registrar’s office that the Seminar paper has met all requirements necessary to make a paper a Seminar Paper (see sections 5.B.1.a and b above).
f. The Seminar Paper requirement may not be fulfilled with a paper written for law review or journal credit.
2. A portfolio of written materials produced during the second and third years of law school for which the student receives academic credit.
a. This requirement must be satisfied by completing three items from one or more of the following categories:
i. a law journal comment or note that is accepted for credit;
ii. a significant transactional document, such as a business planning document, a contract, a financing instrument, a securities disclosure, a will, or a similar written product;
iii. a significant proposed legislative bill or agency regulation based on underlying research;
iv. a significant litigation document, such as a complaint, summary judgment motion and supporting memorandum, a motion to compel or resist discovery and supporting memorandum, a motion in limine on an evidence issue, a trial brief, proposed findings or fact and conclusions of law, or similar written product;
v. a brief for a moot court competition;
vi. legal writing for an externship or clinic determined by the full-time faculty member overseeing the externship or clinic to be substantial work product;
vii. a significant research paper that is not used to satisfy the Seminar Paper requirement.
viii. a paper written for a class in lieu of an exam;
ix. other significant papers may be approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
b. Each student shall obtain a signed certification from the faculty member who supervised each particular item of writing.  The faculty member’s signature must certify that the item constitutes partial fulfillment of this portfolio requirement.  Each student shall submit to the Registrar a certification signed by the student that this portfolio requirement has been fulfilled, and shall attach thereto the certifications that faculty members have signed for each portfolio item.

Completion of the JD degree program requires enrollment in law school as a full-time student for not fewer than five (5) semesters (fall and spring) of the regular academic year.

A student must be enrolled for no less than nine (9) credit hours during each academic semester to be considered a full-time student. (Full-time status for financial aid purposes may require additional credit hours.) Enrollment for less than nine (9) credit hours requires the approval of the dean of students. A student may not be enrolled for more than 18 credit hours during any semester.

Students wishing to graduate in five (5) semesters should consult with the dean of students prior to making a decision.

The College of Law offers only a full-time legal education program, and students are generally expected to complete the requirements for a JD degree within three (3) years.

Failure to complete the requirements for the JD degree within four (4) years shall require submitting a Petition for Readmission to the College of Law Readmission Committee.

In no event shall the JD degree be completed later than 84 months (seven (7) years) after a student has commenced law study at the law school or a law school from which the school has accepted transfer credit.

a. Externship Credit
A student may earn a maximum of fourteen (14) credit hours in the Externship Credit Course.

College Council – April 7, 2020

b. Directed Research Credit
A student may earn a maximum of six (6) semester credit hours for directed research and no more than three (3) credit hours in any semester.

c. Credit for Teaching Ungraded Assistantships, Moot Court and Student Publications
No more than twelve (12) semester hours of credit may be counted towards satisfaction of the JD degree requirements from any combination of ungraded teaching assistantships, moot court activities and student publications.

College Council – May 7, 1997

d. Non-Law School Credit
No more than six (6) semester hours of credit for graduate-level, non-law school coursework, as approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (see Academic Policies and Procedures § 4, Non-Law School Credit), may be counted towards satisfaction of the JD degree requirements.  Moreover, such credit earned outside the law school may not count toward the minimum of 64 credits required for graduation from courses requiring attendance at regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction.