Student Handbook: Section I

Requirements for the Juris Doctor Degree

§ 1.1  Credit Hours, Time to Complete the Degree, and Grade Point Average Requirements

Students must complete 87 hours of credit to earn the degree of Juris Doctor. Students must complete the Juris Doctor degree no earlier than 24 months and no later than 84 months after commencing law studies at Chicago-Kent or at a law school from which Chicago-Kent has accepted transfer credit. All students must attain a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.300 to earn the degree. Of the 87 credits required to hear the J.D., at least 64 of these credit hours must be in courses that require attendance in regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction. Clinical coursework counts toward the 64-credit requirement, but externships, extracurricular activites (including credits earned for participation in a law journal, moot court competitions, trial advocacy competitions, or as a Teaching Assistant), and courses taken in another academic unit (e.g., the Stuart School of Business) do not count toward the 64 credits.


§ 1.2  Required Courses

The following courses must be successfully completed to earn the J.D. degree: Contracts, Torts, Criminal Law, Civil Procedure, Property, Legislation, Legal Writing 1, Legal Writing 2, Legal Writing 3, Legal Writing 4, Constitutional Law, Professional Responsibility, and one seminar. A student who fails any of these required courses must retake the course. As provided in §8.4, a student who fails the same required course twice shall not be permitted to reregister for that course and shall be dismissed from the Law School. 

In addition to the courses listed above, students beginning in Summer 2016 or later must also successfully complete a total of six credits from an approved list of experiential courses. Most students will already satisfy four of these credits through the required sequence of Legal Writing 3 and Legal Writing 4. However, students who opt for the Legal Writing 4 Equivalency Class (see §1.4) should consult the list of approved courses to determine whether the qualifying activity counts toward the experiential requirement. Law Review does not count toward the requirement. 

To satisfy the seminar degree requirement, the seminar must be taken in a semester at the start of which the student has successfully completed at least 54 hours of credit and has completed the Legal Writing 4 writing requirement, unless the Assistant Dean for Academic Administration and Student Affairs waives this requirement in the same manner as provided in §2.9. Students may take seminars for which they meet the prerequisites in earlier semesters, but not in satisfaction of the degree requirement. 

Students who are in the bottom 15% of their class at the end of their second year are required to take Intensive Essay Writing Lab in their final Spring semester (students in the remainder of the bottom 25% are strongly encouraged, but not required, to take this class). Taking Intensive Essay Writing Lab satisfies the seminar requirement.

Certain writing requirements may be waived or satisfied in an alternative manner as provided in §§1.3 and 1.4. 


§ 1.3  Independent Research in Lieu of a Seminar

The seminar requirement may be satisfied by an Independent Research course supervised by a member of the full-time faculty. To fulfill the seminar requirement, an extensive seminar-style research paper must be written. A student must obtain written approval from the instructor and the Assistant Dean for Academic Administration and Student Affairs prior to beginning the research and prior to registration. In order to satisfy the seminar requirement, Independent Research must be taken in a semester at the start of which the student has completed at least 54 hours of credit and has completed Legal Writing 4, unless the Assistant Dean waives this requirement in the same manner as provided in §2.9. Independent Research is graded on a pass/fail basis; a student may not earn a letter grade. Only one credit hour is awarded for this course even though it fulfills the two-credit hour seminar requirement. A student may earn only one credit hour of Independent Research per semester.


§ 1.4  Legal Writing 4 Waiver

The Legal Writing 4 requirement may be waived by taking a Legal Writing 4 Equivalency Class in certain circumstances for students who participate in one of the following: Law Review, Moot Court Honor Society, the Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Program, the Criminal Litigation Program, and Judicial Externship. For details, see the most recent semester's Schedule of Classes or Registration Bulletin, or contact the Assistant Dean for Academic Administration and Student Affairs.


§ 1.5  Semesters in Residence

(a) General Information

The number of hours required to meet the residency requirement is unrelated to the definition of full-time, half-time or part-time for financial aid and scholarship purposes. See §13.1 for those requirements.

Students who change from one division to the other, or from part-time to full-time Day Division status, should contact the Assistant Dean for Academic Administration and Student Affairs regarding their residency requirement.

(b) Full-Time Students

Full-time Day Division students must spend at least six semesters "in residence" at Chicago-Kent or other ABA-approved law school. A full-time Day Division semester "in residence" is a semester with at least 12 credit hours. However, a semester "in residence" for a full-time Day Division senior student is a semester with at least 10 credit hours; this applies to the last two semesters before a student graduates. If a full-time Day Division student attends two Summer sessions the number of semesters required "in residence" may be reduced by one, provided that the student takes at least ten hours during the Summer sessions.

(c) Part-Time Students

Part-time Day Division students and Evening Division students must spend at least eight semesters "in residence" at the Chicago-Kent or other ABA-approved law school. A semester "in residence" for these students is a semester with at least eight credit hours. If a part-time Day Division student or an Evening Division student attends two or three Summer sessions, the number of semesters required "in residence" may be reduced by one, provided the student takes at least eight hours during the Summer sessions.


§ 1.6  Studying at Another Law School

If a student receives permission to study at another law school, the student will receive a degree from Chicago-Kent provided the student earns at least 54 credit hours at Chicago-Kent and meets the other degree requirements of the Law School. In appropriate circumstances, the Assistant Dean for Academic Administration and Student Affairs may make modifications to the credit hour requirement. See §5.1 for the procedures for obtaining permission to study at another law school.


§ 1.7  Application for Graduation

Graduating seniors must submit an Application for Graduation to the Registrar's office as soon as their class schedule for their final term is confirmed. It is imperative for graduating seniors to notify the Registrar if they have changed their schedules and reduced their hours after they have submitted the Application for Graduation.


§ 1.8  Student Responsibility for Fulfilling Requirements

Each student has the responsibility to make sure that all degree requirements are fulfilled. Graduating seniors should make an independent review of their records before registering for their final semester. The Registrar will review the academic record of each senior who has submitted an Application for Graduation and will attempt to notify a student of any apparent deficiencies prior to the conclusion of the add/drop period for the student's last semester. However, it is the student's responsibility, not the Registrar's, to make sure that all degree requirements will be fulfilled by the end of the final semester. After all graduating seniors' grades have been received by the Registrar in the final semester, the Registrar will review each graduating senior's record to make sure that all degree requirements are fulfilled. If a student has not fulfilled all degree requirements, he or she will not receive a degree and will not be certified to the bar examiners.


§ 1.9  Bar Examination Requirements

(a) General Information

The Illinois bar exam is administered in February and July of each year. Students must also pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), which is given four times a year and may be taken at any time during or after law school. The registration forms and instructions for the Illinois bar exam are available at https://www.ilbaradmissions.org. Information about the MPRE is available at http://www.ncbex.org/exams/mpre.

Illinois does not require any specified courses to take the bar exam. However, some states require specific law courses to be eligible to take the bar exam. Students should obtain information as soon after they begin law school as possible about the character and fitness, curricular, preregistration, and other requirements for admission to the bar in states in which they may seek admission. Graduating seniors must advise the Registrar of the forms and documents required by out-of-state bar examiners well in advance of the date the material is required.

(b) Character and Fitness

At the end of each semester, the Law School sends a Certificate of Dean of Law School to the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar for each graduate certifying that the student has earned the J.D. degree. The Certificate requires the dean to answer the following questions for the Character and Fitness Committee and to provide relevant details and documentation:

1. Do your records or other information show anything adverse as to his/her honesty, integrity or general conduct?

2. Was he/she ever involved in a disciplinary inquiry or proceeding while in attendance?

3. Are you aware of any matter or matters reflecting adversely upon his/her reputation and character?

4. Remarks: Here please state any facts, not covered by the foregoing questions, unfavorable to the applicant which you think the committee should know in connection with its duty to determine whether he/she is worthy of the highest trust and confidence.

Other states require similar certificates to be completed by the Law School for students taking the bar exam in their states.

All information disclosed on the bar registration application should be consistent with answers to questions on the student's Application for Admission to the Law School. The bar registration application, however, asks for a considerable amount of information that applicants are not asked to provide on the Application for Admission. You only need to be concerned about the consistency of answers for questions asked on both forms. You can amend your Application for Admission, if necessary, by addressing a letter to the Assistant Dean for Academic Administration and Student Affairs setting forth the details of the omission or misrepresentation and the reason for it.

(c) Graduating Seniors

Graduating seniors must file a bar exam application with the Illinois bar examiners by February 15 of their senior year if they plan on taking the July bar exam in Illinois. (Students planning on taking the February bar exam should check the deadlines and other requirements on the bar examiners' web site.) This applies to all graduating students, whether or not they registered with the bar examiners as a first-year student. Late applications for the July bar exam may be filed up to May 31, but penalty fees apply. The forms and instructions are available on the bar examiners' web site at https://www.ilbaradmissions.org. The Law School sends a Certificate of Dean of Law School/Proof of Legal Education to the Illinois bar examiners at the end of each semester for every graduating student. Please be sure to file an Application for Graduation (see §1.7) early in your final semester so that we will know you plan to graduate.

If you have any questions about the Illinois bar exam or about the registration or application process, you may call the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar at 217/522-5917.


§ 1.10  Degree with Honors

The Juris Doctor degree is conferred by the University upon students who are recommended by the Dean and faculty of the Law School after successful completion of all degree requirements. On recommendation of the faculty, degrees may be awarded cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude. Under current practice, students who rank in the top 1% of their class are awarded their degrees summa cum laude; those who rank in the remainder of the top 10% of their class are awarded their degrees magna cum laude; and those who rank in the remainder of the top 25% of their class are awarded their degrees cum laude. Students who graduate in August and December are ranked with the succeeding May graduating class.

Under current practice, students who earn the LL.M. degree in International and Comparative Law degree will graduate with Honors if they achieve cumulative GPAs of at least 3.750. Students who earn the LL.M. degree in International Intellectual Property will graduate with Honors if they earn grades of B+ or better in the Graduate Seminar in International Intellectual Property and achieve cumulative GPAs of at least 3.500, and will graduate with High Honors if they earn grades of A in the Graduate Seminar in International Intellectual Property and achieve cumulative GPAs of at least 3.750. Students who earn the LL.M. degree in Taxation will graduate with Honors if they attain cumulative GPAs of at least 3.250 and with High Honors if they attain GPAs of at least 3.750. There are no Honors designations for students who earn the LL.M. degree in Financial Services.


§ 1.11  The Order of the Coif

J.D. graduates who rank in the top 10% of the graduating class are eligible for election to membership in The Order of the Coif, if they otherwise meet the membership criteria of the Order. The faculty members of The Order of the Coif elect the new members from among the eligible graduates.


§ 1.12  Law Review Eligibility

(a) Eligibility by Academic Achievement

Subject to the provisions of paragraphs (c) and (d) below, the following students will be invited to join the Chicago-Kent Law Review at the end of each academic year: (1) students who have completed only one academic year as full-time Day Division students who rank in the top 7% of the full-time Day Division class (not divided into sections); (2) students who have completed only one academic year as part-time Day Division students or as Evening Division students who rank in the top 7% of the combined part-time Day Division and Evening Division class; and (3) students who have completed at least one academic year, but not more than two academic years, as part-time Day Division students or as Evening Division students who rank within the top 7% of the combined class comprised of first-year full-time Day Division students, second-year part-time Day Division students, and second-year Evening Division students. Students who transfer into Chicago-Kent from other law schools are not eligible for Law Review based on class rank, but may participate in the Summer Candidacy Program, subject to the provisions of paragraph (b) below.

(b) Eligibility by Successful Summer Candidacy Program Participation

(1) The Summer Candidacy Program typically consists of writing a comment on a legal topic chosen by the Law Review Executive Board. The paper is usually a closed research problem. Exact program dates and requirements are announced by the Law Review. The Law Review Executive Board selects which students, if any, will be invited to join the staff based on evaluation of the comments submitted.

(2) Subject to the provisions of paragraphs (c) and (d) below, the following students are eligible to participate in the Law Review Summer Candidacy Program if at the time of their eligibility they have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.000: (1) students who have completed only one academic year as full-time Day Division students; (2) students who have completed at least one academic year, but not more than two academic years, as part-time Day Division students or as Evening Division students; and (3) transfer students who have completed at least two semesters (but no more than three semesters) of academic work at Chicago-Kent, and who were not enrolled at Chicago-Kent at the end of their first year (for full-time Day Division students) or second year (for part-time Day Division or Evening Division students). Students who do not qualify for any of the above categories are eligible to participate in the Summer Candidacy Program if they meet the following requirements: (1) they have completed at least one academic year at Chicago-Kent; and (2) they have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.250 at the end of the Spring semester immediately prior to the Summer Candidacy Program. No student may participate in the Summer Candidacy Program unless he or she will be in residence at Chicago-Kent for at least two full semesters following that Summer.

(3) Students who will not be in Chicago during the Summer of their eligibility may still participate in the program, but should contact the Law Review as soon as possible after the program dates are announced to make the necessary arrangements.

(c) For purposes of Law Review academic or Summer candidacy eligibility, "completing" an academic year means that a student earned sufficient credit to be ranked with the corresponding Day/Evening Divisions combined class for the student's particular graduation year. Class rank and graduation year information is determined by the Registrar.

(d) The academic and Summer candidacy eligibility of first-year full-time Day Division students will be determined based on cumulative GPA calculations that include all grades received to that point, with the exception that grades received for Legislation, or for an elective taken in place of Legislation, will not be considered.


§ 1.13  Moot Court Honor Society Eligibility

A student may receive an invitation to join the Moot Court Honor Society based on performance in either (1) the Charles Evans Hughes Moot Court Oral Arguments, in which all first-year students participate as a required part of the Legal Writing 2 curriculum, or (2) the Moot Court Honor Society Summer Candidacy Program. Students who argue in the final (second) round of the Hughes Arguments in the first year of law school and finish in the top 10% of all students who competed on a problem-by-problem basis, and who earn at least a B+ in Legal Writing 2, receive invitations to join the Society, provided that they meet the minimum cumulative GPA requirement discussed below. Students may participate in the Summer Candidacy Program in any Summer, provided they will be in residence at Chicago-Kent for at least two full semesters following that Summer. A grade of B+ in Legal Writing 2 is not required to participate in the Summer Candidacy Program.

In addition to fulfilling the requirements discussed above, a student must have at least a 3.000 cumulative GPA at the completion of the Spring semester immediately preceding the Summer Candidacy Program in order to be eligible for membership by either selection process discussed above. Any student, however, who otherwise qualifies for automatic membership based on performance in the Hughes Arguments and Legal Writing 2, but who fails to qualify for automatic membership because he or she has a cumulative GPA below 3.000, may petition the Moot Court Honor Society Executive Board to participate in the Summer Candidacy Competition.

A student who receives an invitation to join the Moot Court Honor Society may defer acceptance of the invitation for no more than one year with permission of the Director of Appellate Advocacy. Deferral is typically granted if (1) the student also has been invited to join the Chicago-Kent Law Review and has accepted that invitation, or (2) the student will be a second-year part-time Day Division student or a second-year Evening Division student and wishes to begin Moot Court membership in the Fall of his or her third year.

All new members of the Moot Court Honor Society are required to register for Appellate Advocacy in their first semester of membership. Appellate Advocacy is offered only in the Fall semester, so students must begin their membership in the Fall semester. A student may not receive credit for more than five hours of Moot Court Honor Society, including the two hours of Appellate Advocacy. Appellate Advocacy is a two-hour graded course that may not be taken on a pass/fail basis. See also the requirements set forth in §§1.15 and 2.5.


§ 1.14  Intellectual Property Moot Court Eligibility

To receive credit for Intellectual Property Moot Court, the following requirements must be met: (1) the student must have completed Legal Writing 2; (2) the student may not have participated more than two semesters in the Moot Court Society; (3) the student must adequately complete briefs per competition rules as determined by the Intellectual Property Law Society's coach and faculty advisor; and (4) the student must participate in at least two arguments in an intramural round robin of oral argument, one argument on each side. Also see the requirements set forth in §§1.15 and 2.5.


§ 1.15  Credit for Moot Court Participation

Except as noted below, the following rules must be followed to earn credit for participation in the Moot Court Honor Society, BLSA Moot Court, Environmental Moot Court, Intellectual Property Moot Court, International Moot Court, and any other moot court competition activity.

A student may earn only one credit hour per semester for participation in a Moot Court program (except for the Appellate Advocacy class), subject to the following conditions:

(1) In order to earn the one credit, the student must fulfill the program requirements for obtaining credit, and the requirements must include substantial participation in an Interscholastic Moot Court competition or the Moot Court Honor Society's Spring Intramural Competition.

(2) A student may earn no more than one credit for each Interscholastic Moot Court competition in which he or she participates, and such credit shall be awarded in the semester in which the competition takes place.

(3) A student may earn no more than one credit in total for participation in the Moot Court Honor Society's Spring Intramural Competition, and such credit shall be awarded in the semester in which the competition takes place.

(4) A student may earn no more than one credit in total for coaching a Moot Court team, but only for coaching a team entered in a competition sponsored by the Moot Court Honor Society, and such credit shall be awarded in the semester in which the competition takes place.

(5) To be eligible to participate in the International Law Moot Court, a student must have completed or be taking an international section of Legal Writing 4.


§ 1.16  Certificate in Environmental and Energy Law

A student may earn a Certificate in Environmental and Energy Law, in addition to the J.D. degree, by participating in the Program in Environmental and Energy Law. A student joins the program by notifying the director of her/his interest.

Additional information about the program, and requirements for completing the certificate, are available here. A student may not make the pass/fail election for any course that will be used to fulfill the requirements for the Certificate.

Students must complete an Application for a Certificate and have it approved by a Director of the Program during their last semester. For additional information, contact Prof. Keith Harley.


§ 1.17  Certificate in International and Comparative Law

A student may earn a Certificate in International and Comparative Law, in addition to the J.D. degree, by successfully the certificate requirements. A student joins the program by notifying the directors of her/his interest.

Additional information about the program, and requirements for completing the certificate, are available here. A student may not make the pass/fail election for any course that will be used to fulfill the requirements for the Certificate.

Students must complete an Application for a Certificate and have it approved by a Director of the Program during their last semester. For additional information, contact Assistant Dean Edward Harris.


§ 1.18  Certificate in Intellectual Property Law

A student may earn a Certificate in Intellectual Property Law, in addition to the J.D. degree, by participating in the Program in Intellectual Property Law.

Additional information about the program, and requirements for completing the certificate, are available here. A student may not make the pass/fail election for any course that will be used to fulfill the requirements for the Certificate.

Every prospective Certificate student must complete a Letter of Intent and submit it to the Director of the Program. In the final semester prior to graduation, the student must complete an Application for the Certificate and submit it to the Director. For additional information, contact Prof. Edward Lee.


§ 1.19  Certificate in Labor and Employment Law

A student may earn a Certificate in Labor and Employment Law, in addition to the J.D. degree, by participating in the Program in Labor and Employment Law. The Program is a component of the Law School's Institute for Law and the Workplace, which also sponsors conferences and symposia dealing with current workplace issues.

Additional information about the program, and requirements for completing the certificate, are available here. A student may not make the pass/fail election for any course that will be used to fulfill the requirements for the Certificate.

Every prospective Certificate student must notify the Director of the Institute after the student's first year of law school of his or her interest. In the final semester prior to graduation, the student must complete an Application for the Certificate and submit it to the Director. For additioanl information, contact the Director of the Institute, Professor Martin Malin.


§ 1.20  Certificate in Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (LADR)

A student may earn a Certificate in Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution, in addition to the J.D. degree, by successfully completing the requirements of the LADR Program. Students in the LADR Program learn traditional doctrinal and case analysis along with the theoretical and ethical foundations of law and receive training in legal research and writing, trial skills, negotiation and mediation, and clinical education.

Full-time Day Division students apply for admission into the LADR Program during their second semester of law school (the Spring semester of their first year) and begin the LADR curriculum in at the beginning of their second year. Part-time Day Division and Evening Division students may apply in either their second or fourth semesters and typically begin the LADR curriculum at the beginning of their third year.

Additional information about the program, and requirements for completing the certificate, are available here. A student may not make the pass/fail election for any course that will be used to fulfill the requirements for the Certificate.

For additional information, contact Prof. Richard Gonzalez.


§ 1.21  Certificate in Business Law

A student may earn a Certificate in Business Law, in addition to the J.D. degree, by successfully completing the requirements of the Business Law certificate program.

Additional information about the program, and requirements for completing the certificate, are available here. A student may not make the pass/fail election for any course that will be used to fulfill the requirements for the Certificate.

For additional information, contact Prof. Adrian Walters.


§ 1.22  Certificate in Public Interest Law

A student may earn a Certificate in Public Inteest Law, in addition to the J.D. degree, by successfully completing the requirements of the Public Interest Law certificate program.

Additional information about the program, and requirements for completing the certificate, are available here. A student may not make the pass/fail election for any course that will be used to fulfill the requirements for the Certificate.

For additional information, contact Prof. Ronald Staudt.


§ 1.23  Certificate in Criminal Litigation

A student may earn a Certificate in Criminal Litigation, in addition to the J.D. degree, by successfully completing the requirements of the Criminal Litigation certificate program.

Additional information about the program, and requirements for completing the certificate, are available here. A student may not make the pass/fail election for any course that will be used to fulfill the requirements for the Certificate.

For additional information, contact Prof. Richard Gonzalez.


§ 1.24  Praxis Certificate

A student may earn the Praxis Certificate, in addition to the J.D. degree, by successfully completing the requirements of the Praxis Certificate program.

Additional information about the program, and requirements for completing the certificate, are available here. A student may not make the pass/fail election for any course that will be used to fulfill the requirements for the Certificate.

For additional information, contact Prof. Maureen Van Neste.


§ 1.25  Joint Degree Programs

Chicago-Kent offers the following joint degree programs. Click on the links below for more information about each program.

Chicago-Kent Joint Degrees:

  • J.D./LL.M. in Family Law
  • J.D./LL.M. in Financial Services Law
  • J.D./LL.M. in Taxation

With IIT Stuart School of Business:

  • J.D./M.B.A.
  • J.D./M.S. in Environmental Management and Sustainability
  • J.D./M.S. in Finance
  • J.D./M.P.A. (Master of Public Administration)

With the University of Illinois at Chicago:

  • J.D./M.P.H. (Master of Public Health)