Student Bulletin – Juris Doctor Program of Study

School of Law Student Bulletin

J.D. Admissions Standard

To gain admission to the Santa Clara University School of Law’s Juris Doctor program, an applicant must exhibit a demonstrated capacity to successfully complete the School of Law’s program of legal education and thereafter pass a state bar examination. In evaluating applications, the School of Law assesses each applicant’s attributes and qualifications holistically, without any single criterion being determinative. Admissions decisions therefore depend upon consideration of a variety of factors. These factors include the applicant’s performance on ABA-approved admission tests; undergraduate academic record and course of study; academic performance in graduate or professional programs; demonstrated writing ability; extracurricular and volunteer activities; work experience; obstacles overcome; and potential contribution to the diversity of the student body. In addition, the School of Law considers evidence of an applicant’s character and moral fitness in an attempt to assess the applicant’s suitability to practice law and qualification for admission to a state bar.

To be considered for admission as a first-year student, applicants must (i) register with the Law School Admission Council’s (LSAC) Credential Assembly Service (CAS), and (ii) take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or other ABA-approved admission test. (These steps are preferred but not required for applicants seeking admission as transfer students.) All applicants must demonstrate that they have earned (or will earn prior to matriculation) a bachelor’s degree that has been awarded by an institution that is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education.
Applicants who have graduated from an institution outside the United States may apply if the quality of the program of education of their degree-granting institution is equivalent to that of institutions accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education.

Foreign applicants who have earned a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and are proficient in English are eligible to apply. Applicants who have completed all of their undergraduate work at institutions outside of the United States, its territories, or Canada must have those institutions send their transcripts directly to LSAC.

First-Year Program

The first year of law school introduces students to the fundamentals of legal analysis and to the substantive law in several basic subjects. First-year J.D. courses are listed below.

Legal Research and Writing 1 and 2
Contracts 1 and 2
Criminal Law
Civil Procedure 1 and 2
Critical Lawyering Skills 1 and 2

Coursework totaling 28 units is prescribed for full-time JD students.

All continuing Flex J.D. students must take the remaining classes through the Flex JD program. Law Student Services will enroll second year Flex JD students in Civil Procedure 1 (2 units), Civil Procedure 2 (3 units) and Critical Lawyering Skills II (1 unit). 

Advanced Curriculum

The School of Law offers a wide range of one-semester advanced courses. See the complete list at Required courses are listed below.

– LAW 105. Advocacy 
– LAW 200. Constitutional Law: Governmental Structure (formerly Constitutional Law I)
– LAW 201. Constitutional Law: Individual Rights (formerly Constitutional Law II)
– LAW 302. Professional Responsibility
– LAW 320. Evidence

Upper Division Proficiency (UP) Points

  1. The UP system will not apply to first-year students. The system focuses exclusively on

the upper division.

  1. Upper division courses eligible for proficiency points:

– LAW 200. Constitutional Law: Government Structure (formerly Constitutional Law I) (Required Course)
– LAW 201. Constitutional Law: Individual Rights (formerly Constitutional Law II) (Required Course)
– LAW 248 Business Organizations
– LAW 281. Wills & Trusts
– LAW 290. Community Property
– LAW 302. Professional Responsibility (Required Course)
– LAW 310. Criminal Procedure: Investigation
– LAW 320. Evidence (Required Course)
– LAW 324. Remedies
– LAW 540. Advanced Torts
– LAW 543. Real Estate Conveyancing

  1. The minimum grade necessary to earn a point: Students must receive a C+ or better in an

UP-eligible course to earn one UP point.

      4. Expected number of UP points: Students are expected to earn at least 4 points in UP-eligible courses. A student must continue attempting to earn UP points each semester until they have earned 4 points. In the final semester, a student who has not earned four points must enroll in either one or two UP eligible courses such that the student is able to satisfy the policy. If the student earns the remaining UP points or course credit in the UP-eligible course(s), the student will be deemed to have satisfied the policy’s requirements for the sake of earning their degree.

     5. Monitoring Student Progress Toward Completion of the UP Requirement:

a) All upper division students are required to enroll in four or more UP-eligible classes prior to the completion of 54 units. The typical full-time student will enroll in two UP-eligible classes each semester until the UP point requirement is satisfied. The typical part-time student will enroll in one UP-eligible class during their 2L fall semester, and two UP-eligible classes each semester thereafter until the UP point requirement is satisfied. Students who have earned exactly three UP points are required to enroll in at least one UP-eligible class in the following semester. Deviations from this typical approach must be approved by Law Student Services in consultation with the Office of Academic & Bar Success. All JD/MBA and JD/MSIS students must seek approval for their course schedules by Law Student Services each term.

b) Students must take all UP-eligible courses for a grade until after they have successfully earned four UP points.

c) For students who have completed 54 units or more, the Law Student Services Office will compute the number of UP points that each student has earned in upper division courses as of the first day of each new semester. Any student who has earned fewer than three points in upper division courses will be required to enroll in at least two UP-eligible classes during that semester. Students who have earned exactly three UP points are required to enroll in at least one UP-eligible class in the following semester.

d) All students who fail to earn at least three UP points in upper division courses by the time they have completed 54 units will be required to complete 373b, Advanced Legal Writing: Bar Exam in their final semester before they graduate from law school, and receive individual counseling from a faculty member from the Office of Academic and Bar Success.

Transfer students may receive UP credit for course work completed at their home school as long as they have taken an UP-eligible class and received a C+ or higher as an upper-division student. Students may not receive UP credit for a course, even if it is categorized as UP-eligible, if it was taken as part of the first-year curriculum at the school from which they transferred. 

With prior approval from the senior assistant dean for student services, students may enroll in a course at another law school that would be UP-point eligible at the School of Law. Such students may receive UP credit for this course work so long as they have taken a course geared towards upper-division students and received a C+ or higher. Students may not receive UP credit for a course, even if it is categorized as UP-eligible, if it was taken as part of the first-year curriculum at the other law school. Please refer to the section titled, Visiting at Other Law Schools, for details.

Experiential Course Requirement

As a condition to graduation, each student must successfully complete one or more experiential course(s) totaling at least six credit hours. An experiential course is a simulation course, a law clinic, or a field placement that focuses on professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession.

  1. Experiential courses are determined by the law school and may include skills such as interviewing, counseling, negotiation, fact development and analysis, trial practice, document drafting, conflict resolution, organization and management of legal work, collaboration, cultural competency, and self-evaluation.
  2. The Associate Dean for Experiential Learning in collaboration with the professor will determine which courses satisfy the experiential course requirements and they will be designated as such in the course description.
  3. A student may not use a course to satisfy more than one requirement for graduation.

Regular Classroom Instruction Requirement

The law school’s accrediting agency requires that students complete at least 64 credit hours in courses that require attendance in regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction. The credit hours may include credit hours earned by attendance in regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction and credit hours earned by participation in a simulation course or law clinic.

Course units awarded for all field placements, Juvenile Justice courses, the Panetta Fellowship program, independent research, coursework completed in another department and co-curricular activities such as journals, moot court, and trial competitions will not meet this requirement.

Distance Education Credit Limitations

Santa Clara Law’s J.D. program is not a Distance Education J.D. Program, which means that student participation in online courses is subject to limitations set forth by the ABA. Specifically, ABA Standard 311 provides that a law school that does not offer a J.D. degree via distance education: (1) may grant a student up to one-third of the credit hours required for the J.D. degree for Distance Education Courses; and (2) up to 10 of those credit hours may be granted during the first one-third of a student’s program of legal education. To assist students in complying with the ABA Distance Education standards, starting in Summer 2023, the law school will designate courses as Distance Education at the time of registration. Faculty teaching those courses which have not been designated as Distance Education at the time of registration will make every attempt to ensure any remote instruction does not exceed one-third of the class time. However, in rare extenuating circumstances, a course may need to be moved to online, and changed to a Distance Education course, mid-semester. If that occurs, students will be notified immediately. The ABA Standards provide an exception for students attending courses remotely with accommodations provided under law (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act) or other exceptional circumstances. If you wish to seek an accommodation, contact the Office of Accessible Education at Santa Clara University.

Academic Progress Report

Students should check their degree progress regularly by reviewing the Graduation Requirements Worksheet in the Pink Book and their Academic Progress Report in Workday.

For more information regarding the Juris Doctor program of study, contact the Student Services Office.