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JD Academic Requirements Overview

The Sturm College of Law awards the degree of Juris Doctor to those students who successfully fulfill the following requirements:

  • Completion of ninety [90] semester credit hours with passing grades. Only a grade of F constitutes a failing grade for purposes of this requirement. Students receive no credit hours toward graduation for courses in which they earn a grade of F.
  • Maintenance of the required cumulative grade point average: For students who enter the Sturm College of Law in the 2007 Fall, or any subsequent, semester: a cumulative GPA of 2.3 or higher
  • Successful completion of all required courses (as defined in the chart that follows this section). A student who receives a grade of F in a required course must retake the course and earn a passing grade. Both grades remain on the student’s transcript and affect the student’s cumulative GPA.
  • Completion of the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement
  • Completion of the Public Service requirement
  • Completion of the Professional Skills Requirement. [All students entering the College of Law in Fall 2013 or thereafter must successfully complete a curricular offering of two or more semester credit hours. A list of qualifying courses will be made available.]
  • Completion of the Experiential Coursework Requirement
  • Completion of the Career and Professional Development Requirement
  • Resolution of all financial obligations to the University of Denver
  • Completion of all credit hours within a specified time period following initial matriculation at law school. The American Bar Association requires law students to complete their legal educations within seven years. Full-time day-division students at the Sturm College of Law normally meet all JD requirements by the end of their third year. Part-time evening-division students at the Sturm College of Law normally complete all JD requirements by the end of their fourth year.

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Non-JD Academic Standards matriculating Summer Semester 2015 or after

Graduation

A student must achieve at least a 2.7 cumulative grade point average to graduate from the Sturm College of Law with any degree other than a J.D. degree. The Sturm College of Law will not graduate, and will dismiss, students who have satisfied the course requirements for graduation in non-J.D. program but have not maintained the required minimum 2.7 cumulative grade point average.
The summer semester is considered a “regular term” for purposes of evaluating satisfactory progress toward good standing.

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Good Standing

All students who enter the Sturm College of Law in the 2007 Fall, or any subsequent, semester must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least a 2.3 to remain in good standing.

Students may check their Academic Progress Report on MyWeb. Students have the responsibility to check MyWeb carefully and to contact the Registrar’s Office if students note any discrepancy between their understanding and their Academic Progress Report. Students have the sole responsibility to ensure that they have completed all graduation requirements.

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Required Courses

Day Division Evening Division
1st Year Fall Civil Procedure (4)
Lawyering Process I (3)
Two of the following 4-credit courses: Contracts, Criminal Law, Property,Torts (4)
Civil Procedure (4)
Lawyering Process I (3)
One of the following 4-credit courses: Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, Torts (4)
1st Year Spring Lawyering Process II (3)
Constitutional Law (4)
Two of the remaining 4-credit courses: Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, Torts (4)
Lawyering Process II (3)
Two of the remaining 4-credit courses: Contracts, Criminal Law, Property ,Torts (4)
2nd Year Fall Constitutional Law (4)
One of the remaining 4-credit courses: Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, Torts (4)
2nd Year Spring

Other Required Courses:
All students must successfully complete the following courses in any semester prior to graduation:

  • Legal Profession (3)
  • Evidence (4)
  • Administrative Law (3)

Other Graduation Requirements:
Completion of (1) the Upper Level Legal Writing Requirement, (2) the Public Service Requirement and (3) the Professional Skills Requirement.

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Public Service Requirement

All law students must satisfy the Public Service Requirement (PSR) in order to graduate. To satisfy the requirement, each student must perform a minimum of 50 hours of supervised, uncompensated, legal public service work. You must complete 22 academic credit hours prior to satisfying the requirement.

You can satisfy the requirement in one of the following ways:

  1. Registering for, and passing, an externship for credit at a government agency, judicial chambers, nonprofit organization, or private firm (as long as the 50 hours is pro bono at the firm) via the Legal Externship Office.
  2. Registering for, and receiving a grade of C or better, in a clinic via the Student Law Office.
  3. Registering for, and receiving a grade of C or better, in an eligible course. Eligible courses currently include: Federal Appellate Advocacy, Homeless Advocacy Seminar, International Criminal Law Practicum, Live Client Lab, Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic Mediation Practicum, Poverty and Low Wage Work in America, Public Interest Lawyering Lab, Probate Practicum, Trial Practice III: Instructor’s Practicum, Trial Practice III: Mentor’s Practicum, Wills Lab, and the Workplace Rights Project Lab.
  4. Volunteering, and engaging in 50 hours of supervised, uncompensated legal work, at a government agency, judicial chambers, nonprofit organization, or private firm, as long as the work at the firm is pro bono. This is known as a Volunteer Legal Experience.

**In order to satisfy the requirement via option #4, a Volunteer Legal Experience, you must abide by all rules and regulations for the Public Service Requirement indicated on our website. You must complete an online student certification and evaluation form about your volunteer experience. Your supervisor, who must be licensed to practice law for at least three years, must complete an online supervisor certification and evaluation form which asks for the number of hours worked (must be at least 50), the timeframe in which the work was completed, and an evaluation of the student’s work. When both of these forms are completed and submitted online, and it is confirmed that the work satisfies the requirement, your Academic Progress Report will reflect that you satisfied the PSR at the conclusion of the relevant semester, Students engaging in this option are strongly encouraged to check in with the Public Interest Office prior to doing the work to confirm it is eligible.

Please note: You are not required to complete the steps outlined above if you are satisfying the public service requirement via options #1, 2, or 3 above. For these options, your Academic Progress Report will reflect that you satisfied the PSR via a PUBL designation at the conclusion of the relevant semester.

The Public Service Requirement has the following goals:

  • Educate students about their professional responsibilities, particularly their obligation to perform public service work as practicing attorneys;
  • Help students develop practical lawyering skills by supervising them in real work situations and teaching them to integrate the theory and practice of law;
  • Raise awareness among students of meaningful career and public service opportunities.

Students are strongly encouraged to complete this requirement before their last semester of law school.

For more information about the PSR, visit this page and/or contact the Director of Externships & Public Interest Initiatives at publicinterest@law.du.edu.

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Upper Level Legal Writing Requirement

All law students must satisfy the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement prior to graduation. The requirement provides students additional instruction and practice in research, organization and expression.

To satisfy the requirement, each student must:

  • Complete a written product of at least ten (10) pages on an appropriate legal subject determined by a professor and the student.
  • Secure the professor’s written comments as to the substance and style of the student’s written project
  • Prepare a second draft of the written project in response to the professor’s comments to the professor’s satisfaction.

Students may satisfy the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement in the following ways:

  1. Advanced Legal Writing Course
    A student can enroll in and successfully complete the upper level legal writing course entitled “Advanced Legal Writing.”
  2. Designated Seminar Classes or Clinics
    A student can enroll in and successfully complete a seminar that satisfies the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement. The student also can enroll in and successfully complete a clinical course that satisfies the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement. Clinics and seminars do not necessarily satisfy the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement. Students must clarify with individual professors whether the seminar or clinic will satisfy the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement. A student who elects to fulfill the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement under this option must make certain that the Registrar’s Office receives certification from the professor that the student successfully fulfilled the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement. Only after the Registrar’s Office has received official certification has the student completed this graduation requirement.
  3. Directed Research Projects
    The student may enroll in and successfully complete a 2-3 credit hour Directed Research Project with a full-time faculty member. If the student successfully completes a Directed Research project that fulfills the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement, the professor must certify to the Registrar that the student has completed the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement. A student who elects to fulfill the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement under this option must make certain that the Registrar’s Office receives certification from the professor that the student successfully fulfilled the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement. Only after the Registrar’s Office has received official certification has the student completed this graduation requirement.
  4. Certification by Professor
    Any full-time or adjunct professor can offer a student the opportunity to complete the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement within the course taught by the professor or independently of the course taught by the professor. Upon successful completion of the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement, the professor must certify to the Registrar that the student has completed the requirement. A student who elects to fulfill the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement under this option must make certain that the Registrar’s Office receives certification from the professor that the student successfully fulfilled the Upper Level Legal Writing requirement. Only after the Registrar’s Office has received official certification has the student completed this graduation requirement.

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Professional Skills Requirement

  1. All law students entering the College of Law in the Fall 2013 Term or the Fall 2014 Term must successfully complete a curricular offering of two or more semester credits hours that provides substantial instruction in professional skills generally regarded as necessary for effective and responsible participation in the legal profession beyond legal research, writing, and analysis.
  2. Professional skills include pre-trial practice, trial advocacy, appellate advocacy, alternate dispute resolution processes, client communication, counseling, negotiation, legal document drafting, fact investigation, interaction with regulators (such as drafting of regulatory ruling requests), interviewing, law practice management, legal problem solving, recognizing and resolving ethical dilemmas, and similar skills.
  3. To fulfill this requirement, a curricular offering must provide at least one credit (700 classroom minutes) of instruction in the performance of professional skills beyond legal research, writing, and analysis, and must engage each student in multiple (more than one) hands-on skills performances that are evaluated by the instructor.
  4. The College of Law Registrar shall maintain a list of courses that satisfy the professional skills requirement on the College of Law webpage. The College of Law Modern Learning Committee and Curriculum Committee shall be responsible for approving courses that satisfy the professional skills requirement, and for periodically updating that list. Each course description for each class that satisfies the professional skills requirement shall indicate that it does so.
  5. 5. A student may not use the same curricular offering to satisfy both the upper level writing requirement and the professional skills requirement.

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Experiential Coursework Requirement

  1. All law students entering the College of Law in the Summer 2015 Term or thereafter must successfully complete a curricular offering of six or more semester credit hours that are primarily experiential in nature and provide substantial instruction in professional skills generally regarded as necessary for effective and responsible participation in the legal profession beyond legal research writing, and analysis.
  2. Experiential Coursework must be primarily experiential in nature and must integrate doctrine, theory, skills, and legal ethics, engage students in multiple opportunities for performance of one or more professional skills, and provide opportunities for self-evaluation.
  3. Experiential Coursework includes pre-trial practice, trial advocacy, appellate advocacy, alternate dispute resolution processes, client communication, counseling, negotiation, legal document drafting, fact investigation, interaction with regulators (such as drafting of regulatory ruling requests), interviewing, law practice management, legal problem solving, recognizing and resolving ethical dilemmas, and similar skills.
  4. To fulfill this requirement, a curricular offering must provide at least one credit (700 classroom minutes) of instruction in the performance of professional skills beyond legal research, writing, and analysis, and must engage each student in multiple (more than one) hands-on skills performances that are evaluated by the instructor.
  5. The College of Law Registrar shall maintain a list of courses that satisfy the Experiential Coursework requirement on the College of Law webpage. The College of Law Modern Learning Committee and Curriculum Committee shall be responsible for approving courses that satisfy the Experiential Coursework requirement, and for periodically updating that list. Each course description for each class that satisfies the Experiential Coursework requirement shall indicate that it does so.
  6. A student may not use the same curricular offering to satisfy both the upper level writing requirement and the Experiential Coursework requirement.

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Career & Professional Development Requirement

All JD students beginning law school in the summer 2016 semester or thereafter must complete the Career & Professional Development Requirement (the “CPD Requirement”) in order to graduate.

To satisfy the CPD Requirement, each 1L student must complete 5 sessions of their choice during the 1L year from any or all of the following core competency areas:

  • Career & Academic Planning
  • Interviewing and Networking
  • Job Search Documents
  • Professional Development
  • Wellness / Personal Development

The Student Services Office and the Office of Career Development & Opportunities (“CDO”) will maintain a list of qualifying programs. Students may satisfy up to 2 of the 1L sessions through individual career advising appointments with the CDO.

In addition, each JD student must participate in at least 2 individual career advising appointments after the 1L year.

Students who have secured postgraduate employment and are no longer seeking employment may opt-out of the CPD requirement at any time by providing all ABA-required employment information to the CDO.

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