Juris Doctor (JD)
Emory Law has it all: faculty who are experts in their respective areas of law and dynamic teachers in the classroom; countless opportunities for hands-on, experiential learning; and an environment of support and cooperation that encourages challenging the status quo.
Year One: Immersion in the Language of the Law
Emory Law empowers you to discern your legal path right from the start of your legal education. In your first semester, Legislation and Regulation introduces you to the central role of legislatures and administrative agencies in the practice of law today. The course serves as a primary building block for Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Legislation, and a number of specialized, upper level courses. In the spring, you will have the opportunity to take a first-year elective so you can explore an area of possible legal interest or get a head start on an area that already fascinates you. Elective courses vary each year and provide a strong foundation for more specialized legal study.
Year Two: Find Your Legal Voice
In your second year, you will begin to chart your path—you will have unique goals for your practice area, work setting, and geographic location. Emory Law supports you along your individual journey and provides personalized guidance, resources, and help throughout your legal education. Our unique approach to experiential learning, composed of skills classes, clinics, externships, public interest opportunities, and professional development programs, will help you explore your options and begin to make decisions about your future. You will complete your second year with a one-week immersion in advocacy and a summer internship or clerkship.
Year Three: Prepare for Your Future
In your third year, you will enhance your knowledge of the law through continued practice-oriented coursework and hands-on experiences to fully prepare you for the legal profession. You will also focus on mentoring opportunities under the coaching of a dedicated 3L Career Center adviser.
JD Degree Overview
- The regular, professional curriculum of the law school is a full-time day program leading to the juris doctor (JD) degree.
- New students are accepted only in the Fall semester.
- The JD degree is conferred on a student who has completed 90 semester hours of course credit as prescribed by the faculty, with a minimum overall grade point average of 2.25.
- For all JD students who are expected to graduate in or after the Spring of 2019, six of the required 90 semester hours of course credit must be experiential learning credits as defined by ABA Standard 303. For more information about the Six-Credit Experiential Learning Requirement, see our Frequently Asked Questions page For a complete list of Emory Law's Approved Experiential Learning Courses, see the approved courses list.
- Three academic years (six semesters) of resident study are required.
- For all degree programs, the majority of required credits for graduation must be earned at Emory Law.
- Joint-degree JD students must earn a minimum of 79 law school hours.
- Students who transfer to Emory Law from another US JD program who wish to earn a joint degree must earn 79 of 90 hours from the law curriculum. (Exceptions are made at the discretion of the vice dean.)
- Students who achieve a semester average of 3.45 are designated on the Dean's List that semester.
- The JD with Honors is conferred on each student whose scholastic average for his or her entire law school program is 3.45 or higher.
- The JD with High Honors is conferred on each student whose scholastic average for his or her entire law school program is 3.8 or higher.
- JD students must complete all juris doctor degree requirements within 84 months of initial matriculation.
The study of law requires a sound undergraduate education.
This education should give students perception and skill in the use of the English language, in both expression and comprehension, and insight into (rather than merely information about) society’s institutions and values. A sound undergraduate education should also convey the power to think clearly, carefully, and independently, as well as convey an understanding of people and human relations. The prelaw student should be concerned with intellectual and personal development in order to bring a disciplined, inquiring mind and a stable, well-integrated personality to the study of law.
An Emory legal education trains lawyers to meet the challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow. Developing mature, sensitive judgment in persons who will be among this country's decision makers requires more than knowledge of rules of law and an ability to analyze problems. At Emory Law, 600 students from almost every state, several foreign countries, and nearly 200 undergrad institutions work together with an experienced faculty to learn how to use law in dealing with the changing problems of an increasingly complex society. The study of law at Emory is a process of continuing intellectual development.
Emory Law has a long and valued tradition in the use of the honor system. Clients place confidence and trust in their lawyers and society entrusts lawyers with the care of its laws. Thus, an integral part of a law student's education adherence to the honor system.
The Emory Law faculty has established major goals of the first-year program:
- Development of analytical skills and ability to read and understand cases' statutory materials
- Practice in oral skills and argument
- Introduction to legal research and drafting
- Development of perspective and appreciation for historical context
- Basic substantive law coverage as the foundation for upper-level courses
Small sections and individual attention are features of first-year instruction at Emory. Each first-year student takes the research, writing, and appellate advocacy course from a full-time instructor in a section of 35 students. This makes Emory distinctive among many other law schools, which frequently have class sizes of one hundred or more. Instruction is based primarily on the case method, with an emphasis on developing analytical thinking. The first-year courses, when mastered together, acquaint students with how the law develops through judicial decision and the interpretation of statutes. These courses furnish the foundation on which students build a sound legal education. The research, writing, and appellate advocacy course helps students develop skills in the research needed for solutions of legal problems and in the effective written and oral presentation of their solutions.
Prescribed First-Year Courses
Civil Procedure—4 hrs
Legislation and Regulation—2 hrs
Introduction to Legal Advocacy, Research, and Communications I—2 hrs
Criminal Law—3 hrs
Constitutional Law I—4 hrs
Introduction to Legal Advocacy, Research, and Communications II—2 hrs
Elective—3 or 4 hrs
Total—16 or 17 hrs
With few exceptions, all courses are elective after the first year. All students must successfully complete Evidence (632), Legal Profession (747), and Trial Techniques (671). Each student is required to take Trial Techniques at the end of the second year.
In addition, every student must fulfill the writing requirement prior to graduation. This requirement may be satisfied by successfully completing a seminar or a directed research project approved by a faculty member and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Every student must research a topic in depth, submit drafts of a paper to instructor for revision, and complete a substantial paper on the topic. A minimum grade of C is required to satisfy the writing requirement. Students may also fulfill the writing requirement through production under faculty supervision of a publishable Note or Comment in any of the law school's three journals. All seminars, workshops, or clinical placements are limited-enrollment courses. In addition, some second-year and third-year courses offered during the academic year are subject to enrollment limitations. Summer work can add an additional dimension to classroom studies. Course credit is not available unless the student is working within a program or internship sponsored by another fully approved (ABA-AALS) law school. In such situation, the student should submit a proposal for credit to the law school's Clinical Committee as soon as he or she is accepted as a participant.
- 90 law school hours total are required.
- For all JD students who are expected to graduate in or after the Spring of 2019, six of the required 90 semester hours of course credit must be experiential learning credits as defined by ABA Standard 303. For more information about the Six-Credit Experiential Learning Requirement, see the Frequently Asked Questions page. For a complete list, view the Emory Law's Approved Experiential Learning Courses page.
- 79 law school hours for JD/MBA, JD/MTS, JD/MDiv, JD/REES, JD/MPH, JD/PhD, JD/MA. All students who transfer to Emory Law from another US JD program who wish to earn a joint degree must earn 79 of 90 hours from the Emory Law curriculum. Exceptions are made at the discretion of the vice dean.
- For all degree programs, the majority of required credits for graduation must be earned at Emory Law.
- Evidence (must be taken in second year)
- Legal Profession
- Trial Techniques (must be taken in second year)
Six-Credit Experiential Learning Requirement (for all JD students who are expected to graduate in or after the Spring of 2019)
- Six experiential learning credits from courses on the list of Emory Law’s Approved List of Experiential Courses.
- Writing Requirement:
- Directed Research
To be in good academic standing, a student in the JD program must have a cumulative average of at least 2.25, based on all course work completed at the conclusion of the second term (the term in which the student completes at least twenty-five semester hours) and thereafter. A student not in good standing is automatically ineligible to continue. Such a student may petition the law faculty through the Academic Standings Committee for readmission on probation. It is the obligation of the student to obtain probationary status.
A student on probationary status must complete course work that constitutes “full residence” during the probationary term. Student on probation may not attend summer school, take clinical courses or field placements, or participate in Moot Court or any of the journals.
Students readmitted on probation must take a minimum of ten semester hours of course work and must achieve a cumulative average of at least 2.25 by the end of the probationary period. A student with a cumulative average less than 2.25 shall not be granted a JD degree.
Non–joint-degree students with a semester average of 3.45 or higher on at least ten graded law hours shall be placed on the Dean’s List.
Joint-degree students with a semester average of 3.45 or higher on at least five graded law hours shall be placed on the Dean’s List.
Graduation with Honors
JD students with a final cumulative average between 3.45 and 3.79 graduate with Honors. JD students with a final cumulative average of 3.80 or higher graduate with High Honors. Transfer students are graduated with High Honors or Honors if their averages on work at Emory meet the above requirements. Emory students transient elsewhere are eligible for graduation with High Honors or Honors if (1) their average for work done at Emory was 3.80/3.45 or above and (2) their average grade for work done while on transient status was at least a B or equivalent numerical grade.
First Honor Graduate
The First Honor Graduate is the student in the graduating class with the highest overall academic average computed on all three years of work done at Emory (summer school attendance excluded).
Letter Grade Values
The current grading system at Emory University School of Law is based on F to A+. A grade of F is failing. A cumulative average of 2.25 is required for good standing and for graduation.
- A+ 4.3
- A 4.0
- A- 3.7
- B+ 3.3
- B 3.0
- B- 2.7
- C+ 2.3
- C 2.0
- C- 1.7
- D+ 1.3
- D 1.0
- D- 0.7
- F 0
Note: What follows is a statement of learning outcomes established under ABA Standard 302 (“Learning Outcomes”). These learning outcomes also identify the skills and professional values embodied in the required curriculum, pursuant to New York’s Rule 520.18 (“Skills Competency and Professional Values Bar Admission Requirement”).
Note Also: This is an evolving document, subject to continuing review and change by the law school faculty.
Each student graduating with a J.D. from Emory University School of Law must have demonstrated –
(a) Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural American law; specifically:
- Competence in the subjects covered in Emory Law’s first-year curriculum: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Legislation and Regulation, Property, and Torts;
- Competence in the subjects required in Emory Law’s upper level curriculum: Evidence and Legal Professional Responsibility;
- Exposure to advanced areas of substantive law in Emory Law’s upper level elective curriculum.
(b) Competence in legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, and problem-solving in a legal context; i.e. identifying legal issues; researching federal and state legal authority; determining the law pertaining to legal issues; applying the law to specific facts; citing to legal authority.
- Ability to analyze basic elements of a legal idea, experience or theory, by examining a particular fact situation in depth and considering its components in light of substantive law;
- Ability to synthesize and organize information, ideas and/or experience;
- Ability to apply legal authority, theories or concepts to practical problems or new factual situations.
(c) Competence in written and oral communication and advocacy in a legal setting.
- Completion of curriculum in introductory legal research, analysis and communication;
- Ability to complete an original legal research paper, meeting specific length and content requirements detailed by faculty policy;
- Ability to analyze, understand and advocate a legal position, including skills in interviewing, fact investigation, negotiation, counseling, problem-solving, and legal strategy.
(d) Understanding and exercise of proper professional and ethical responsibilities to the law school, to clients and to the legal system.
- Commitment and adherence to the Professional Conduct Code of Emory University School of Law;
- Understanding of and compliance with the rules and values governing attorney conduct, including honesty and candor toward clients, other lawyers, courts and institutions;
- Competence in the practical application of legal knowledge and learned legal skills, including multiple forms of legal drafting and legal advocacy;
- Understanding of bar admission requirements and how to meet them;
- Understanding of the increasingly diverse and global nature of modern legal practice.
(e) Other professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession.
- Reflect on the value of all legal practitioners engaging in various forms of public, community and/or legal service;
- Reflect on the concept of forming a professional identity by combining doctrinal knowledge, ethical understanding, understanding of self and internalization of legal ethical standards;
- Identify value of information technology as it relates to the roles and tasks of modern lawyers;
- Experience making judgments about the value of information, arguments, or methods, such as examining how others gathered and interpreted data and assessing the soundness of their conclusions.
- Students enrolled in the following programs or courses must also demonstrate competence in the learning outcomes specified for those programs and courses, including: