Image of Roger Williams Law School students in Juris Doctor program

Juris Doctor

Where do you want to go with your law degree? Few degrees are more versatile than the Juris Doctor, or J.D. Whatever your professional interest – private practice, public interest, government, litigation, corporate, marine, non-legal, educational – we'll help you design an academic and experiential pathway that will get you there.

Curriculum

Are you ready to make a difference? Do you want to change the world for the better? The Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree is a powerful key that opens the door to myriad career options. Private law practice is the traditional route – whether as a sole practitioner, member of a boutique specialty practice, or part of a large regional, national or international firm. Opportunities for government lawyers abound at the local, state and federal levels. Public interest lawyers are in huge demand, working with nonprofit agencies to serve those in need – economically disadvantaged communities, immigrants, veterans and more. In-house attorneys advise companies and corporations. And many others step off these traditional legal paths altogether to forge their own way. Armed with a J.D., and powered by drive and ingenuity, the possibilities for today’s lawyers are endless.

Below is a summary of courses needed for the J.D. Degree.

See all J.D. Courses

 

Year One

Core Curriculum

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    LAW.610Legal Practice I

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    Course Description

    This skills course trains students in the traditional methods of case and statutory analysis, legal research and writing. The skills are developed through graded exercises, library research, and written work. Students prepare a client opinion letter and two office memoranda.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    2.5

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    LAW.611Legal Practice II

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    Course Description

    This skills course complements Legal Methods I. The emphasis is on the development of advocacy skills through problem analysis, legal research, the writing of an appellate brief and the presentation of oral argument. Students are trained in computer-aided legal research.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    2.5

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    LAW.616Torts I

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    Course Description

    This course provide an introduction to the law of liability for civil wrongs. Topics include intentional torts, negligence, strict liability, nuisance and damages.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    Faculty Associated

    David A. LoganCarl T. Bogus

    LAW.617Torts II

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    Course Description

    This course provides an introduction to the law of liability for civil wrongs. Topics include intentional torts, negligence, strict liability, nuisance and damages.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    2.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    Prerequisite

    LAW.616 – Torts I

    Faculty Associated

    Carl T. BogusDavid A. Logan

    LAW.600Civil Procedure I

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    Course Description

    This two-semester course provides an introduction to the adversary system and the historical basis and evolving functions of both the state and the federal systems of civil procedure. Topics include an introduction to claims and remedies, jurisdiction, venue, pleading, discovery, joinder of claims and parties, res judicata, collateral estoppel, disposition without trial, court selection, jury and non-jury trials, post-trial motions and appellate review. The drafting of pleadings for a case is included.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    LAW.601Civil Procedure II

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    Course Description

    This two-semester course provides an introduction to the adversary system and the historical basis and evolving functions of both the state and the federal systems of civil procedure. Topics include an introduction to claims and remedies, jurisdiction, venue, pleading, discovery, joinder of claims and parties, res judicata, collateral estoppel, disposition without trial, court selection, jury and non-jury trials, post-trial motions and appellate review. The drafting of pleadings for a case is included.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    Prerequisite

    LAW.600 – Civil Procedure I

    LAW.622Property

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    Course Description

    This course provides an introduction to the law of property, both real and personal. Real property concepts are emphasized. Topics include historical development, common law principles, gifts, estates in land, licenses, easements, restrictive covenants, future interests, contracts for the sale of land, conveyancing, mortgages, the recording system and possessory rights. Land-use regulation will be introduced if time permits.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    5.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    LAW.623Criminal Law

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    Course Description

    This course examines the general principles of substantive criminal law and concepts of mens rea, causation, parties, elements, criminal responsibility and capacity, justification, excuse and defenses.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    Faculty Associated

    Tara I. AllenEmily J. Sack

    LAW.604Contracts I

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    Course Description

    This two-semester course provides an introduction to the law of agreements. Topics include contract formation, the doctrine of consideration and its substitutes, the Statute of Frauds, contract regulation, the parole evidence rule, interpretation, performance and breach, conditions, anticipatory breach, remedies for breach, specific performance, damages, restitution and impracticability and frustration. Both the common law and the Uniform Commercial Code are emphasized. The rights and duties of non-parties are covered to the extent possible.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    LAW.605Contracts II

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    Course Description

    This two-semester course provides an introduction to the law of agreements. Topics include contract formation, the doctrine of consideration and its substitutes, the Statute of Frauds, contract regulation, the parole evidence rule, interpretation, performance and breach, conditions, anticipatory breach, remedies for breach, specific performance, damages, restitution and impracticability and frustration. Both the common law and the Uniform Commercial Code are emphasized. The rights and duties of non-parties are covered to the extent possible.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    Prerequisite

    LAW.604 – Contracts I

    LAW.100IL Enrichment

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    Course Description

    RWU Law’s Enrichment Course is designed to help first-semester students develop the critical skills necessary for success in their first-year courses. These sessions include topics such as case-briefing, outlining, study strategies and may provide an opportunity to review a formative assessment or attain additional insight into doctrinal areas. All full-time students must attend the 1L Enrichment Course. Part-time students and MSL students are welcome to attend, but are not required to attend.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    0.0

    Course Degree

    Juris Doctor

    Faculty Associated

    Kathryn Thompson

Year Two

Core Curriculum

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    LAW.646Legal Practice III

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    Course Description

    This course is designed to provide in-depth instruction in legal writing and analysis, and to help prepare students for legal practice. Students will complete a series of in-class and take-home exercises and will receive feedback on their writing throughout the semester. In addition, students will meet individually with their professor to discuss assignments, and to enhance their writing and analytical skills.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    2.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    Prerequisite

    LAW.611 – Legal Practice II

    LAW.627Criminal Procedure: Investigation

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    Course Description

    This course examines the procedural aspects of the criminal justice system with emphasis on the impact of the fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments to the United States Constitution on state and federal prosecutions. Topics include the law of arrest, search and seizure, police interrogation and the privilege against self-incrimination.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    LAW.655Professional Responsibility

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    Course Description

    This course analyzes the responsibility of lawyers and judges from the perspectives of the rules and case law, the profession and the client/consumer. Topics include the historical, political, and sociological bases of legal ethics; conflicts of interests; attorney-client privilege; admission to the bar; disciplinary matters and procedures; unauthorized practice of law; attitudes toward bench and bar; professional liability; and canons of ethics and codes of professional responsibility.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    2.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    LAW.639Constitutional Law I

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    Course Description

    This course examines the basic principles of constitutional law through the analysis of the opinions of the United States Supreme Court. Topics include judicial review, federal system relationships, commerce clause,
    governmental powers and civil rights.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    LAW.760Constitutional Law II

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    Course Description

    This course examines the basic constitutional protection of individual rights, including equal protection implied fundamental rights or modem substantive due process (including rights of privacy, privileges and immunities, and the incorporation controversy) due process and the first amendment freedoms of expression and religion.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    Prerequisite

    LAW.639 – Constitutional Law I

    LAW.645Evidence

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    Course Description

    This course introduces the law controlling the introduction and exclusion of evidence in civil and criminal trials. Topics include burden of proof, presumption, judicial notice, burden of production, burden of persuasion, competency of witnesses, relevancy, examinations of witnesses, privileges, hearsay, demonstrative evidence, documents and the function of judge and jury.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    4.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

Electives

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In addition to the required course above students must take 13-15 credits of electives. To see what electives we offer see our full course list and select electives.

Or see the recommended courses within the curriculum tracks listed below.

Year Three

Required

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All students need to take a legal practice upper level course. This course may be taken in Year Two

    LAW.889Applied Legal Reasoning

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    RESTRICTED TO 3L STUDENTS

    Course Description

    This class is the bridge between the three-year law school curriculum and the two months of bar review following graduation. The course teaches much of the law tested on the bar exam, yet focuses primarily on thinking skills and test-taking strategies. Extensive coverage is given to the most difficult part of the bar exam: the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), the 200-question multiple-choice test that is part of the bar exam of every state except Louisiana. The course also covers essay and performance test writing techniques. The Fall Semester will cover Torts, Evidence, Criminal Law, & Criminal Procedure. The spring course will cover Contracts, Property, & Constitutional Law. The Fall Semester course is not a formal prerequisite for the Spring Semester, but is highly recommended.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Core Course

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris Doctor

    Faculty Associated

    Brittany Raposa

Electives

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In their third year students must take 28-32 credits of electives. To see what electives we offer see our full course list and select electives.

Or see the recommended courses within the curriculum tracks listed below.

Graduation Requirements

1L Bar Exam

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The 1L preliminary bar examination shall be taken at the end of the Spring exam period in the first year of law school for full-time students (and at the end of the Spring exam period in the second year of law school for part-time students).

2L Bar Exam

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The 2L preliminary bar examination shall be taken at the end of the Spring exam period in the second year of law school for full-time students (and at the end of the Spring exam period in the third year of law school for part-time students).

Upper Level Elective Courses Tested on the Bar

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For students who begin the J.D. Program in Fall 2019 or thereafter, each student must successfully complete at least four upper-level courses that are designated by the law school as courses addressed to bar-tested subjects. Students may choose which four of the bar-tested elective courses to take to satisfy this requirement. In addition to any other courses that the law school may designate, these courses include the following:

    LAW.635Business Organizations

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    Course Description

    This course surveys and analyzes the various forms of business enterprises. Organizations include sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. Topics include the legal relationships between the corporation and its directors, officers, stockholders, and creditors; risk reduction devices; formation, dissolution, and termination; and agency relationships and responsibilities. Consideration is given to cases, statutes, model acts, and securities laws.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Elective

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    LAW.652Sales

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    Course Description

    This course provides an introduction to the law related to the sale of goods (moveable personal property) under Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code ("UCC"). Topics to be covered include: formation, terms, performance, risk of loss, express and implied warranties, disclaimers, breach, and remedies of the aggrieved buyer and seller. The course assumes familiarity with basic contract principles, though core concepts will be reviewed.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Elective

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    LAW.738Remedies

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    Course Description

    The remedies course surveys what a court can do for a claimant who has been, or might be, wronged by the defendant. We will address the principal remedies: damages; injunctions (orders to do or refrain from doing certain conduct); restitution (including the possibility of recovering the defendant's gains from a wrongful act, even if the gains exceed the amount of the plaintiff's loss); remedies that simply declare the rights of the parties; pre-judgment remedies before a determination of liability; and the various means of enforcing remedies (including contempt and seizure of property). Throughout the course, we will discuss which of the several remedies are best for the plaintiff, and how to determine the extent of the remedy that the plaintiff may obtain.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Elective

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    LAW.749Wills & Trusts

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    Course Description

    This course is intended to prepare a student to advise clients about ordering their personal and financial affairs to more effectively provide for themselves and the people about whom they care. Various dispositive mechanisms inter vivos testamentary and in trust, will be covered, as well as devices to appoint health care and financial proxies. The course will also address the ethical and professional responsibilities of lawyers representing clients in this area.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Elective

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    LAW.722Family Law

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    Course Description

    This course examines the underlying social and economic principles of family life, its regulation by government, and constitutional limitations on regulation. Direct laws covering marriage, divorce, and child custody will be examined but also the course will cover those areas of law--property, income maintenance, medical care, schooling and crime--that also have direct impact on families in this society.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Elective

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    LAW.653Secured Transactions

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    Course Description

    This course surveys Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code and focuses on financing and creation of a security interest in personal property and fixtures.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Elective

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

    LAW.737Conflict of Laws

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    Course Description

    Callie from California and Max from Massachusetts get into a car accident with each other in the parking lot of Disney World (Florida). Max returns home to Massachusetts and sues Callie and Disney World in Massachusetts state court. Does the Massachusetts court have jurisdiction over Callie and/or Disney World? If so, what law would a Massachusetts court apply to the dispute – Massachusetts law? California law? Florida law? If Max obtains judgment against Callie and Disney World, are these judgments enforceable in California and Florida? If Callie moves to France and obtains a declaratory judgment there that she is not liable to Max for the car accident, would this French judgment be recognized by a Massachusetts court to preclude Max’s lawsuit? These are the questions to be explored in this Conflict of Laws course. The course will focus on three broad questions: 1. Jurisdiction: When does a court have jurisdiction over a dispute? 2. Choice of Law: What law will a court apply to a dispute? 3. Enforcement of Judgments: When will a judgment from a foreign court (U.S. state or foreign country) be recognized and/or enforced? The approach taken is a mix between academic and practical. The ultimate goal is to have students not only understand the doctrines that comprise the conflict of laws, but be able to apply and manipulate them to achieve a desired result.

    Course Type See Course Type Descriptions

    Elective

    Course Credits

    3.0

    Course Degree

    Juris DoctorMaster of Studies in Law

Writing Requirement

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In order to graduate, every student, under the direct supervision of a professor or director of an institute, must write an individually authored paper that reflects substantial legal research; presents a legal argument that is well-developed, organized, and supported; is at least 5500 words long; and is of sufficient quality to earn a grade of “C” or higher. With the approval of the supervising professor or director, students may also submit shorter papers totaling 5500 words, as long as each paper is at least 1500 words long and meets these requirements.

Students should work closely with the supervising professor or director in completing this paper or papers, submitting preliminary drafting stages, such as a thesis statement, an outline, and a first draft. At each stage, the supervising professor or director should provide thorough feedback on the student’s work.

The graduation writing requirement may be fulfilled by: (a) a directed research paper or papers under Section 705 of this Code, (b) a paper or papers submitted in a seminar or course in which the paper or papers in total count for at least one-half of the final course grade, or (c) a paper supervised by a professor or director submitted to acquire or maintain Law Review membership.

Examples of formats that would fulfill the graduation writing requirement are an academic-style paper, a legal brief, a research or bench memo, or a judicial opinion.

Students must obtain written certification that they completed the graduation writing requirement from the supervising professor or director or, for papers supervised in an adjunct-taught seminar, from the Associate Dean. Students shall submit the Certification of Graduation Writing Requirement to the supervising professor or director at the same time they submit the final version of the paper or papers for which they seek to satisfy the requirement. Students are responsible for ensuring that a certification form signed by the supervising professor or director is delivered to the Office of Student Finance and Records well in advance of their graduation date. To assure uniformity in the treatment of the papers supervised by adjunct faculty in seminars, the Associate Dean will review the papers before they are certified as satisfying the requirement.

Pro Bono Experiential Learning Requirement

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Prior to graduation, each student must engage in fifty (50) hours of law-related pro bono work. All work satisfying this requirement must be donated; neither monetary compensation nor academic credit may be exchanged for this work. Pro bono work, as used in this section, means working with indigent clients, non-profit organizations (including, but not limited to 501(c)(3) organizations), public interest groups, the judiciary, government, and private practitioners handling pro bono cases. The Law School’s Associate Director of Pro Bono Programs will oversee the placement of students in pro bono opportunities and will certify satisfactory completion of this requirement. Every graduating student must complete his or her pro bono work no later than thirty (30) days in advance of their anticipated graduation date in order to allow for processing.

Academic Standards

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Students must complete 90 semester hours of credit to be eligible to receive the J.D. degree. The minimum cumulative GPA required for advancement to the second year is a 2.00. Likewise, students must achieve an annual GPA of 2.00 to advance to the third year and a cumulative GPA of 2.00 is required for graduation.

Over the past several years, approximately 6% of students have been academically dismissed after the first year of study and less than 1% thereafter.

Under the law school's grading policy, the mean grade in all first-year required courses must fall between 2.65 and 2.85. For all required courses after the first year, the mean grade must fall between 2.80 and 3.10. For all other courses there is no required or recommended mean.

Experiential Education Requirement

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Each student must complete the Experiential Education Requirement, by taking at least six credits of any course or courses designated as “Experiential Education.” For purposes of satisfying this requirement, Legal Practice III shall be designated as an Experiential Education course and be counted toward the six credit requirement. In addition, an in-house clinical program, a field clinic, the fieldwork component of a clinical externship program, and any additional course designated by the Associate Dean as an Experiential Education course shall be counted as toward the six credit requirement.

Curricular Tracks

Curricular Tracks are suggested paths of concentrated study, based upon various areas of law in which you may wish to practice upon graduation. They were created by the faculty and administration of the School of Law, with the intention of providing guidance to students as they plan their academic careers.

Headshot of Peter Kilmartin

Rhode Island’s Top Lawyer

Peter Kilmartin, RWU Class of 1998 Juris Doctor

As he enters his eighth and final year as Rhode Island’s attorney general, Peter F. Kilmartin ’98, B.A. ’88, can claim by several measures to be the school’s most prominent alumnus. But he claims there was never any master plan.

Read full story

Joint Degree Programs

Take your degree further by combining your J.D. with a Master's program. You can add specialized experience and save money through one of the following Joint Degree Programs:

JD / Master of Marine Affairs

We offer a joint degree program in partnership with the Marine Affairs program at the University of Rhode Island.

Discover the JD/MMA

JD / Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Drawing on the strengths of the School of Law as well as the Roger Williams University School of Justice Studies, Roger Williams University offers a concentrated joint degree program for students interested in criminal justice.

Discover the JD/MSCJ

JD / Master of Science in Cyber Security

Put yourself on the cutting edge of the law and technology with this innovative joint degree program between RWU Law and the Roger Williams University School of Justice Studies.

Discover the JD/MSCS

JD / Master of Science in Historic Preservation

Take advantage of one of the only joint degree programs combining the law with historic preservation in partnership with Roger Williams University's School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation.

Discover the JD/MSHP

JD / Master of Science in Labor Relations & Human Resources

In conjunction with the University of Rhode Island Charles T. Schmidt Jr. Labor Research Center, RWU Law offers a concentrated joint degree program for students interested in extensive study of legal issues relating to employment and labor relations.

Discover the JD/MSLRHR

Clinics and Externships

Every student at RWU Law is guaranteed at least one substantial clinical experience and many of our students complete two or more. Here are just some of the options for getting real-world clinical experience.

Business Start-Up Clinic

Providing transactional legal services to non-profit organizations and community-based business in Rhode Island.

Learn more about the Business Start-Up Clinic

Criminal Defense Clinic

Representing real defendants in pending criminal cases under the direct supervision of a full-time member of the RWU Law faculty.

Learn more about the Criminal Defense Clinic

Immigration Clinic

Representing non-citizens in their applications for relief from removal before the Immigration Court.

Learn more about the Immigration Clinic

Veterans Disability Appeals Field Clinic

Representing military veterans pursuing disability benefits in the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

Learn more about the Veterans Clinic

Clinical Externships

Second and third year students earn academic credit while working under the supervision of legal services lawyers, public defenders, prosecutors, government attorneys, corporate counsel or judges in the local community.

Learn more about Clinical Externship Programs

Semester-in-Practice

Total-immersion experience: students earn a full semester of credit while training in Rhode Island, Boston, New York - anywhere in the U.S. or around the world.

Learn more about Semester-in-Practice

 

 

 

 
Close Course Type Descriptions

Course Types

We have classified RWU Law classes under the following headers. One of the following course types will be attached to each course which will allow students to narrow down their search while looking for classes.

Core Course

Students in the first and second year are required to take classes covering the following aspects of the law—contracts, torts, property, criminal law, civil procedure, and constitutional law, evidence, and professional responsibility.  Along with these aspects, the core curriculum will develop legal reasoning skills.

Elective

After finishing the core curriculum the remaining coursework toward the degree is completed through upper level elective courses.  Students can choose courses that peak their interests or courses that go along with the track they are following.

Seminar

Seminars are classes where teachers and small groups of students focus on a specific topic and the students complete a substantial research paper.

Clinics/Externships

Inhouse Clinics and Clinical Externships legal education is law school training in which students participate in client representation under the supervision of a practicing attorney or law professor.  RWU Law's Clinical Programs offer unique and effective learning opportunities and the opportunity for practical experience while still in law school.