The Juris Doctor (J.D.) is a professional degree awarded by the College of Law. The University of Iowa College of Law is approved by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association.
The first year of the J.D. program offers the personal connection and attention students need to develop a strong intellectual foundation for legal thinking and writing. The College of Law has one of the lowest student-faculty ratios of any law school. Professors have an open-door policy, and they serve as models for the kind of highly collaborative, rigorously professional behavior that prepares students to serve as counselor to their clients. Students get intensive, individualized instruction from legal writing faculty; the College of Law is one of the few law schools in the nation with a full-time faculty dedicated solely to a student's growth as a legal writer.
In the second and third years, students focus on the areas of law that most interest them, drawing from a rich menu of mainstream, specialized, and clinical courses. A wide array of opportunities provides experiential learning: moot court competitions, the field placement and the clinical law programs that allow students to take the lead with real clients, or allowing students to write for one of the four student-run scholarly journals. The Field Placement program, in particular, provides a wide range of placements for students still in law school. Students have worked in U.S. District Courts, legal aid centers, federal public defenders' offices, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) around the world. Students also may add distinction to their résumés by participating in study abroad or exchange programs.
Details about applications and admission to the program are available on the College of Law website.
Cocurricular and Extracurricular Programs
Students enrich their course of study by participating in the college's cocurricular and extracurricular programs which include Moot Court, the Trial Advocacy Program, and four student-produced journals.
In the Moot Court appellate advocacy programs, students draft appellate briefs, build expertise with citation form, develop research skills, and strengthen their persuasive abilities through oral arguments.
The Trial Advocacy Program is a student-run, faculty-supervised program in which students develop and refine skills used to prepare and try civil and criminal cases. The heart of the program is LAW:9060 Trial Advocacy, a course taught by law school faculty, federal and state judges, and experienced trial attorneys. Students are on their feet during most class sessions, practicing the arts of jury selection, opening statement, direct and cross examination, introduction of exhibits, use of expert testimony, and closing argument. The course culminates with a full-scale trial—from the filing of pretrial motions to the rendering of a jury verdict—conducted by student co-counsel before a visiting judge and a jury of laypersons.
The Stephenson Competition is named after Judge Roy L. Stephenson, a U.S. District Court and Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals judge and a 1940 graduate of the College of Law. Students who demonstrate superior ability in advocacy skills during the trial advocacy courses participate in a series of mock trials judged by local members of the bench and bar. Individuals selected from the competition represent the University of Iowa in the national trial competition.
Iowa Law Review
Since its inception in 1915, the Iowa Law Review has served as a scholarly legal journal, noting and analyzing developments in the law and suggesting future paths for the law to follow. Students have managed the review since 1935, editing and publishing articles by professors and students. To learn more, visit the Iowa Law Review website.
Journal of Corporation Law
The Journal of Corporation Law is the nation's oldest and most cited student-published legal periodical specializing in corporate law. The journal's scope includes antitrust, intellectual property, labor law, securities, taxation, employment discrimination, insurance, products liability, and regulated industries, as well as traditional corporate topics. Selected articles submitted by practitioners and academics are published in each of four annual issues. See the Journal of Corporation Law website.
Journal of Gender, Race & Justice
The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice pushes the boundaries of legal scholarship and theory in its focus on social justice issues. The journal hosts a symposium at the College of Law every third year, bringing together nationally renowned legal scholars and practitioners to discuss the relationships among the law and race, gender, sex, sexual identity, economic class, ability, and other identity characteristics. The journal publishes an annual volume of legal works that includes symposium papers, papers from conferences outside the college, and articles written by Iowa law students. To learn more, visit the Journal of Gender, Race & Justice website.
Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems
Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems addresses issues and problems that transcend traditional political boundaries, that are of interest to the international and comparative law community, and that are not commonly found in other journals and reviews. One issue takes the form of a symposium addressing specific topics; this issue has a guest editor who is a legal scholar noted for work on the symposium topic. The second issue is submission based. Every other year the journal organizes and sponsors a symposium on a contemporary international issue; past topics include climate change, the European Union's sovereign debt crisis, and war crimes. For more information, visit the Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems website.
The Juris Doctor (J.D.) requires a minimum of 88 s.h. to earn the degree. To be eligible for a J.D. degree, students must meet the credit hour requirements, meet the length of study requirements, achieve a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 2.1, take and complete all required courses, satisfy the writing requirements, and satisfy the experiential course requirement.
The first-year curriculum emphasizes development of analytical skills, a sense of the role of legal institutions in society, and essential writing skills. Each course in the first-year curriculum shares these emphases and conveys substantive knowledge about a particular area of the law.
First-year students take the following courses.
First Year, Fall
|LAW:8026||Introduction to Law and Legal Reasoning||1|
|LAW:8032||Legal Analysis Writing and Research I||2|
First Year, Spring
|LAW:8010||Constitutional Law I||3|
|LAW:8033||Legal Analysis Writing and Research II||3|
The two-semester sequence LAW:8032 and LAW:8033, Legal Analysis Writing and Research (LAWR), is designed to equip students with effective skills in legal analysis, writing and oral communication (oral advocacy), and research.
Second- and Third-Year Curriculum
Second- and third-year courses cover the range of specialties within the legal profession, allowing students to explore and follow their professional interests in a particular career specialization, to write for one of the school's four student-run scholarly journals, to pursue combined degrees in law-related graduate programs, or to simply obtain the widest possible exposure to the legal landscape.
All second- and third-year students must complete the following work.
|LAW:8280||Constitutional Law II||3|
|Experiential course requirement|
|Four writing units beyond the writing requirements of the first year|
Some students want to explore areas beyond the law, whether it is to maximize their skill sets for future careers, gain in-depth knowledge in a second subject matter, or simply to broaden their minds. Combined degree programs allow students to pursue two degrees simultaneously, taking advantage of synergies between degree requirements while gaining significant exposure to a second area of study. Juris Doctor students may pursue combined degree programs with most graduate and professional programs at the University of Iowa. Students may earn a J.D. degree and another graduate or professional degree in a shorter amount of time than if the two degrees were pursued independently.
To pursue a combined degree, students must apply to and be accepted separately into the J.D. program and another graduate or professional program. Students typically seek admission to the second degree-granting program after matriculation at the College of Law by applying to the graduate program of interest during their first year of law school. In some cases it is possible to apply to both programs simultaneously. Students who have already begun graduate work at the University of Iowa may apply to the College of Law. Once students have been accepted into the J.D. program and another graduate or professional program, they must obtain the permission of the associate dean for student affairs or the dean of the College of Law to be classified as a combined degree candidate. Prospective students interested in a combined degree program should contact the admissions offices of both programs to discuss the proposed program of study.
Students who wish to pursue a combined degree program and obtain admission into one college but not the other may enter the college in which they were admitted. However, they are not granted combined degree status. Likewise, combined degree students who terminate work toward one of the degree programs may typically continue to work toward the other degree.
Prospective combined degree students must submit separate applications to the College of Law and the graduate program of interest. They must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and comply with all College of Law admissions requirements. Students also must meet the admission requirements of the other graduate program by taking tests such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Prospective students should inform the Admissions Offices of both programs that they are applying to a combined degree program to confirm the admissions requirements for the other program.
Students interested in a combined degree program at the beginning of their legal studies should indicate they are seeking a combined degree on their application. Students who are admitted to both colleges will receive separate letters of admission from those colleges as well as an official notification of being admitted to the combined degree program from the Office of Admissions.
Admission information for the Juris Doctor (J.D.) is available on the College of Law Admissions page. For information about other graduate programs of interest, visit Academics on the University of Iowa home page.
Shared Credit Policies
Students enrolled in a combined degree program must satisfy the semester hours and course requirements that all students must satisfy for each degree separately. However, they have the option of using credit for some courses toward both degrees. These courses are typically electives in each discipline. For example, students enrolled in a combined J.D./M.P.H. program may be able to count the family law and introduction to U.S. health care system courses toward the graduation requirements of both the J.D. and M.P.H. degrees.
The amount of shared credit that may be applied toward both programs of study varies by program. Generally, combined degree program students may apply up to 12 s.h. earned in their second program of study toward the J.D. provided that the courses satisfy the College of Law policy on non-law courses. The J.D./M.P.H. degree permits up to 12 s.h. of specific College of Law courses to count toward M.P.H. graduation requirements. Some degree programs allow students to count up to 6 s.h. of College of Law courses toward a non-law degree. Details on the Graduate College policy may be found in the Manual of Rules and Regulations on the Graduate College website. Prospective students should check with their graduate or professional program of interest to determine the law semester hours that count for both programs as well as other rules or restrictions concerning counting of courses toward both degrees with the College of Law.
Additional details about College of Law graduation requirements and other policies may be found in the College of Law Student Handbook. Students considering a combined degree program should be aware that the first-year program in the College of Law consists of required courses and they typically may not take courses outside the College of Law.
Student Tuition Assessment Policy
Students in a J.D. and a graduate/professional degree combined program are assessed tuition at the College of Law rate if the tuition in the other college is lower than in the College of Law, except for any semester or summer session in which they are not enrolled in any law courses and none of the semester hours being earned in other colleges are applied toward their J.D. degree. All combined degree students pursuing a J.D. degree are assessed at least six semesters of law school tuition.