To meet graduation requirements, a student must successfully complete at least 85 units of law study, including all required courses, with a cumulative grade point average of at least a 2.00 (C). The traditional three year course of study may be accelerated by summer study, but in no event may a student complete the course of study in fewer than two and a half academic years and one or more summer sessions whose units must total the equivalent of one full academic period in residence (minimum 10 units) to qualify a student for early graduation.
In addition to the required first-year curriculum, each student must satisfactorily complete courses in Professional Responsibility (Legal Profession) and Evidence, and satisfactorily complete a seminar in advanced research and writing. Beginning with the entering class of 2004, 36 graded units are required after completing their first year. Members of the Arizona Law Review and the Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law may satisfy the advanced research and writing requirement through service on the Law Review or Journal staff. Members must receive four units of credit to be exempt from the advanced research and writing seminar.
Click here to download the application for Juris Doctor Degree Candidacy.
Small Section Program
The heart of a student’s first year at the College of Law is the small section program. In the first semester of the first year, each student is assigned to a Small Section (approximately 25 to 30 students), typically in one of three substantive first-year courses: Contracts, Torts or Civil Procedure. Full-time faculty also supervise practice “labs” in the small sections as an integral part of the substantive first-year course. The writing assignments in the labs generally relate to the substantive material being studied in class; they are created, read and critiqued by the professor. The Small Section serves as an academic and personal hub during the first year. In addition to sharing the experience of a small class setting with fellow small section students, students in each small section usually share the same class schedule . Other classes, usually classes of 50, 75 or 100, are formed by combining two or more small sections.
The benefits of the small section include the opportunity to develop a community with a group of fellow students and the small section faculty member. In turn, the benefits of the interactions in the small section carry over to the larger first year classes as well. Friendships are often forged among students in a small section that flourish long after graduation from law school. Interactions with one’s small section professor also often extend beyond the first semester of law school, because of the shared academic experience and individualized attention offered in the practice labs, which are an integral part of the small section experience.
Core Curriculum The College of Law faculty strongly recommends that each student take a number of elective and required courses in the second and third year, designated as the Core Curriculum. The Core Curriculum recommendations to provide students explicit guidance for planning their studies in preparation for the practice of law in any of a wide variety of areas. The core curriculum continues the fundamental grounding in basic legal principles, theories, and areas that should provide the foundation for practice in any area of specialization, giving the graduating law student and new lawyer a breadth of perspective from which to develop more specialized areas of expertise.
Related to the Core Curriculum and the College’s emphasis on a broad, general legal education, is the conviction that the College of Law is preparing lawyers for lifelong learning. The College strives to introduce students to ways of thinking, approaching problems, researching, and formulating ideas that will be effective in any legal context. The content of laws changes, as do the fields that any given lawyer may work in over the course of a legal career. But the skills of analysis, writing, thinking, communicating, and research, which are important to a lawyer throughout any legal career, are developed and nurtured at the College of Law.
Upper Level Electives Many students arrive at the College of Law with little idea of the broad range of possibilities and fields open to the practicing lawyer, and even less idea of what particular area or areas he or she might wish to pursue. Others, however, arrive at the College with very specific ideas about their career goals and aspirations. While for some, these aspirations change or develop, for others, the focus they bring to their first day of law school is unwavering. For interested students, there are opportunities to emphasize certain areas of law in the electives available to all students during their second and third years. For those students interested, The College offers ample opportunity to explore a broad spectrum of topics.
The College of Law has not developed discrete specialization programs. Nevertheless, there are a number of areas of study, some of which tie uniquely to our area of the country and continent, which offer students the opportunity for in-depth study and exploration. A number of areas of possible emphasis or concentration that individual students may choose to pursue are outlined here.
Writing Opportunities In the second semester of the first year, students enroll in a three-unit Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research course. This course builds on the initial introduction to legal writing that students will have received in their various practice labs. The Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research course is structured around the small section as well.
In addition, before graduation, each student must complete a substantial paper, which is an original research paper of publishable quality. Substantial papers are written in writing seminars with no more than 15 students, under the supervision of a faculty member. The College provides diverse seminar offerings for the completion of the substantial paper requirement, which are described in the course listings of the College of Law catalog.
The practice labs, the Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research course, and the substantial paper seminars constitute the required writing program. Students may further refine their writing skills by taking Persuasive Writing or Legal Analysis and Legal Reasoning during their second year, by participating in the second year Fegtly Moot Court Competition, and by enrolling in any of a variety of courses requiring significant writing. Finally, membership on the Arizona Law Review and the Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law provides additional research and writing opportunities.
Clinical Programs Clinical programs offer students the opportunity for practical experiences in law under the guidance and supervision of law faculty and practicing lawyers. Clinical legal education is an integral part of the experience for over 80 percent of our students. Through the clinical programs, students have hands-on experiences working with clients, attorneys and judges. The clinical programs allow second and third-year students to participate in such activities as drafting opinions for judges, representing clients in court, conducting in-take interviews, and negotiating cases.
Through the leadership and participation of several faculty, the College has developed a strong and diverse clinical program. The College of Law currently operates four in-house legal clinics in Child Advocacy, Domestic Violence, Immigration, and Tribal Law, and sponsors several programs involving placements with lawyers in the public sector and trial court judges.
The College of Law-operated clinics provide students with unique opportunities to learn about the practice of law while they are serving clients in need of legal services. The Tribal Law Clinic has been described above. The Child Advocacy Clinic, initiated in January 1997 with a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, primarily represents children in juvenile court actions that could result removal of the child from his or her parents and being placed in foster care, or in the severance of the parent-child relationship. In the Domestic Violence Law Clinic, a joint project of the College of Law and Southern Arizona Legal Aid, students represent victims of violence in obtaining protection orders against their abusers and assisting the clients in both the civil and criminal contexts. Through the Immigration Law Clinic, students represent people detained by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, handling a variety of matters in immigration court, from bond hearings to deportation hearings for individuals from Cambodia to Guatemala, many of which involve issues of political asylum.
In addition to the College’s four in-house clinics, the College offers an active Clinical Placement Program, in which students work on cases under the supervision of licensed attorneys practicing in government agencies or non-profit organizations. Clinical opportunities are available in the Public Defender’s and the Prosecutor’s offices, and in Legal Aid. Finally, the Judicial Clerking Program gives second- or third-year law students the unique experience of working closely with trial court judges on the federal, state or city court levels.
Throughout our clinical programs, students are able not only to learn the techniques of effective legal practice, but also to step back and reflect upon the philosophical and moral assumptions underlying such techniques. Students participating in any clinical program meet weekly in the classroom to observe and practice lawyering skills, to discuss issues raised in the field, and to analyze their “law practice” experiences.
Litigation and Trial Advocacy Program The College of Law’s outstanding Litigation and Trial Advocacy Program was developed and is directed by the Director of Trial Advocacy, a national leader in trial advocacy. The program has multiple sections of three courses, all based on the simulation method, in which students in restricted-enrollment classes act as lawyers litigating and trying cases against each other.
The Basic Trial Advocacy course focuses on technical trial skills, such as direct and cross examination, introducing exhibits, impeaching witnesses, opening statements, and closing arguments. Each section is limited to sixteen students. Several sections of this basic course are offered each semester. The Pretrial Litigation course focuses on civil litigation including the initial client interview, fact gathering, legal research, pleadings, discovery, motions, and settlement. Sections limited to sixteen students, act as law firms litigating civil cases against each other. Finally, the Advanced Trial Advocacy course focuses on jury trials. Each student tries four cases, acting as the plaintiff’s and defendant’s lawyer in civil and criminal cases. Sections of all three courses are taught by our adjunct faculty, who are well recognized judges, trial lawyers and litigators from the Tucson area, under the direction of the Director of Trial Advocacy, who plays an active part in the teaching program as well.
Indian Law and Law of Indigenous Peoples During the past several years, the College of Law has nurtured growing interest in Indian Law and the Law of Indigenous Peoples. The College of Law has become a center for innovation in training law students in Indian Law and in providing legal and other forms of assistance to Native American and other indigenous communities.
The College’s Indian Law efforts are interdisciplinary in focus, with high quality classroom offerings and unique clinical opportunities. Clinical legal educational opportunities include: a Tribal Court Extern Clerkship Program, which enables second- and third-year students to serve as judicial clerks with tribal judges; the Tribal Advocates Program, in which students perform as advocates in criminal, civil and juvenile tribal court proceedings with the Tohono O’odham, Pascua Yaqui and other tribal courts; and the Technical Assistance and Research effort, in which students draft legislation and court procedures for the tribes. In addition, the Tribal Law Clinic has represented Native American tribes and communities before the United Nations Human Rights Commission Working Group on Indigenous Populations and before other international human rights bodies.
In addition to the Tribal Law Clinic offerings, the College has course offerings in Indian Law (basic and advanced), International and Comparative Law of Indigenous People, International Human Rights, and a Workshop in Indigenous Rights.
The Tribal Law and Policy Program, an academic, research and advocacy program established in 1990 at the College of Law, regularly sponsors conferences and workshops at the College. Recent Conference topics have included “Environmental Conflict Resolution in Indian Country,” “American Indians in the Courtroom: Language and Metaphor,” “Comparative Issues in Domestic Violence” and “Indigenous Land Claims.”
Each year, the Tribal Law and Policy Program also sponsors the distinguished Indigenous Human Rights Visiting Scholars and Advocates Program. Recent participants in this program, which brings prominent and accomplished indigenous rights scholars and advocates to the College of Law to meet with students, lead seminars, conduct workshops and give formal presentations, include Vine Deloria, Jr., James Anaya (now a member of our permanent faculty), Dalee Sambo Dorough, Mililani Task, Lehua Lopez, Rebecca Tsosie and Terry Janis.
Finally, the College of Law and the American Indian Studies Program of The University of Arizona offer one of the few J.D.-M.A. Programs in American Indian Studies in the country.
For further information click here to visit the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program Web Site.
Tax and Estates & Trusts Annually, the College of Law offers its students introductory courses in both Federal Income Tax and Estates and Trusts. The faculty recommends that every student take both courses. Federal Income Tax is designed to serve simultaneously as a generalist’s only venture into tax law and as the specialist’s springboard to more advanced tax offerings. Estates and Trusts performs a similar role on the wealth transfer side of the curriculum.
The College of Law also offers, on a regular basis, a wide variety of advanced courses in both tax and estates and trusts, several of which deliberately bridge the two disciplines. Advanced tax courses, to be taken only after completion of Federal Income Tax, include Corporate Tax, Partnership Tax, and Taxation of Multinational Transactions. Estate and Gift Taxation is an advanced wealth transfer course, to be taken after completion of Estates and Trusts. Finally, Estate Planning, with multiple prerequisites, should be taken at the completion of the other wealth transfer courses. Students interested in completing this capstone course should take the applicable prerequisites as early as possible.
The breadth of the College of Law’s offerings in the areas of tax and estates and trusts offers students a thorough grounding in these practice specialties. The rigor and reputation of the College of Law’s programs in these areas have enabled a growing list of graduates to continue their specialization by pursuing advanced degrees elsewhere, including at the nation’s most distinguished programs.
Corporate and Securities Law The College of Law’s offerings in this area reflect the dramatic changes occurring in these fields. The curriculum is designed to assist students in developing increasing levels of expertise and understanding of the law. Corporations I and Corporations II introduces students to basic issues and provides them with a sound understanding of both the substance and the structure of corporate law. The College of Law also offers advanced courses in Securities Regulation and Corporate Finance.
International and Comparative Law In recent years, the College has increased the course offerings in international and comparative law substantially, including international trade, commercial and business law, public international law and international human rights. Tucson’s proximity to Mexico, the enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the increasing importance of broader international perspectives and the recruitment of new faculty with interests in the area have contributed to this momentum.
The College offers a unique exchange program with the University of Puerto Rico School of Law for summer or semester-long exchanges. The University of Puerto Rico, the best known law school in Puerto Rico, is accredited by the American Bar Association. Students from each school may pay “home” school tuition and take a full course load at the host institution. The Puerto Rico program offers students the opportunity to have an American-based law experience within both civil and common law traditions while perfecting their Spanish-speaking skills.
The University of Arizona College of Law has cooperative agreements with the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (U.N.A.M.) in Mexico City and the Instituto Technologico de Monterrey (I.T.E.S.M.) aimed at developing stronger ties between and among the institutions. Finally, The College of Law accepts credit for international study from a variety of programs sponsored by other law schools, provided the programs are accredited by the American Bar Association.
The above describe a few of areas of focus that students can use to structure their personal programs of study. A more extensive compilation of course offerings that also might be of help in thinking about your law school career can be found in the College of Law Catalog.
Course Load Requirements The study of law requires substantially all of a student’s time and energy. Students must spend a great deal of time outside of class, much of it in the library, in out-of-class preparation, writing, and research. Many students find that engaging in some of the student professional activities serves as valuable preparation for becoming contributing members of the bar. In addition, the friendships developed during law school provide intellectual and personal growth and serve as the foundation for life-long social and professional relationships.
The Faculty believes that part-time legal education lacks the depth required for adequate professional training. During the first year, it is essential that students devote themselves to their studies and not engage in outside work. During the second and third years, students may choose to work on a part-time basis; however, the classroom educational experience and the preparation necessitated by the rigors of law coursework demand that academic work take primary importance in a student’s pursuits. Finally, the American Bar Association Standards for Accreditation of Law Schools require that full-time students not be employed more than twenty hours weekly (whether inside or outside the law school).
Internships Several internships are currently available to law students. Over the past several years, various congressional internships have provided an opportunity for one second- or third-year student each semester and summer to work with the legislator’s staff in Washington. In addition, the College participates in the Arizona Legislative Internship Program, which enables selected students to spend the Spring semester working at the Arizona Legislature in Phoenix. The College also offers internships with the Navajo, Tohono O’odham, White Mountain Apache and Pascua Yaqui tribal governments, through which students interested in Indian Law may undertake clerkships.
Courses Outside the Law CollegeA student who has completed the first year of law studies and who has a 2.75 cumulative grade point average may, with the approval of the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, take a maximum of 6 units of graduate work in other colleges of the University. The courses so elected must be relevant to law study. Although law school credit will be awarded for courses in which a grade of C or higher has been received, the grades received will not be included in the student’s law school cumulative grade point average.