ASL provides a practical education that goes beyond theory to the actual practice of the law. The curriculum is rigorous and aimed at giving students the skills and knowledge they will need for their future career.
Students must complete 90 semester hours of courses. The community service program, which requires 25 hours of service each semester, enhances that coursework.
First year students take the traditional courses required by most law schools including Torts, Property, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, and Contracts. Students also take a dedicated course in academic support designed to get new law students familiar with the unique challenges of law school. Since the transition to law school can be stressful, ASL does not rank or grade first year students. Instead, the competition is between students and their course material, not their classmates.
In the summer between their first and second years, all students participate a credit earning legal externship. The externship providing an early opportunity to gain hands on experience and to increase students’ practical understanding of the law.
Second year students continue the core legal curriculum with a focus on the subjects tested on most state bar exams. However, unlike most law schools, ASL includes an introductory course in Dispute Resolution as part of its core curriculum. Alternative Dispute Resolution is a growing area of law that has always been a focus of ASL’s curriculum. Upper level Dispute Resolution courses in several focus areas are also available.
All qualifying students are awarded a Juris Master degree upon successfully completing their first semester of their second year.
One of Appalachian School of Law’s primary goals is to offer education that is both relevant yet innovative, and practical yet life-changing. As a part of this goal, ASL offers the Juris Master degree to candidates for the Juris Doctor that have successfully completed their third semester. With the Juris Master Degree, ASL students in good academic standing receive recognition for mastering basic legal skills.
Attaining this degree ensures that the students receive something of value that will increase their career marketability. With a solid grounding in the law, students are able to advance their careers with twenty-first century businesses and nonprofit organizations that face an increasingly complex regulatory and legal environment.
Students qualifying for the Appalachian School of Law’s Juris Master degree receive their J.M. diplomas during a ceremony in the spring, following completion of their third full semester.
Third year students continue to take some required courses in the core curriculum, such as Family Law, but also have the opportunity to take electives and seminars in the areas of the law that interest them most. Practicum courses, designed to give students practical experience in specific areas of the law, are also commonly taken during the third year. For instance, Trial Advocacy, a popular practicum, gives students a chance to develop and practice real litigation skills and can lead to membership on one of ASL’s award winning Trial Advocacy teams.
All third year students also take Bar Preparation, a semester long course that offers a review of the subjects covered on the Multistate Bar Examination and various state bar examinations. The course includes diagnostic and practice examinations with individual scoring and feedback.
ASL is there for its students, even after graduation. ASL’s academic support system does not close to students after graduation. ASL continues to provide support and encouragement as students prepare to take the bar exam. For instance, our faculty serve as bar mentors, meeting with graduates as they prepare to take the bar exam in states throughout the region. ASL also has a dedicated career services office and alumni network to help students transition to practice after law school.