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Charleston School of Law Juris Doctor Program Catalog and Student Handbook 2023-2024

Academic Catalog and Handbook

Requirements for J.D. Degree

To be eligible for a Juris Doctor degree, a student must have:

Please note: effective with the Fall 2021 semester, students are no longer required to complete the Proficiency Requirement. 

Good Standing

A “Student in Good Standing” means a student who is in compliance with all graduation requirements of the Charleston School of Law, including having a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0.

Required Courses

Students must successfully complete the below listed courses and requirements.  

For students in full-time enrollment, the sequence of courses is as follows:

  • First-Year Courses
    • Contracts I & II;
    • Property I & II;
    • Torts I & II;
    • Legal Research, Analysis and Writing I & II;
    • Civil Procedure I & II; and,
    • Academic Skills.

Upper-Level Courses

  • Second-Year Courses:
    • Business Organizations;
    • Constitutional Law I & II;
    • Criminal Law;
    • Criminal Procedure;
    • Evidence;
    • Legal Skills
    • Professional Responsibility;
  • Third-Year Courses:
    • Sales;
    • Secured Transactions;
    • Wills, Trusts & Estates; and
    • Bar Preparation Course (taken in the final semester; students who are planning to graduate at the end of summer should take the course in their final spring semester); 
      • Students receiving the distinction of Presidential Honors after successfully completing 27 credit hours are exempt from this requirement.

For students in part-time enrollment option, the sequence of courses is as follows:

  • First-Year Courses
    • Contracts I & II;
    • Legal Research, Analysis and Writing I & II;
    • Civil Procedure I & II; and,
    • Academic Skills
  • Second-Year Courses:
    • Property I & II;
    • Torts I & II;
    • Constitutional Law I & II;
    • Legal Skills
    • Professional Responsibility;
  • Third-Year Courses
    • Business Organizations;
    • Criminal Law;
    • Criminal Procedure;
    • Evidence;
  • Fourth-Year Courses:
    • Sales;
    • Secured Transactions;
    • Wills, Trusts & Estates; and
    • Bar Preparation Course (taken in the final semester);
      • Students receiving the distinction of Presidential Honors after successfully completing 27 credit hours are exempt from this requirement.

Elective Course Credit

Students may choose from a list of elective course offerings to complete the remaining credit hours required for graduation. Elective course offerings vary from year to year. Many of the electives offered at the Law School are listed in the Course Description section.

Experiential Courses Requirement

Pursuant to ABA Standards, students are required to take at least six credit hours in experiential courses.  Under Charleston School of Law requirements, students satisfy this standard through: 

  • The Skills Course Requirement;
  • The Drafting Course Requirement; and,
  • The Legal Skills Course Requirement.

Each of these requirements is separate from one another and is described below. Students may not use the same course to satisfy two requirements.

Skills Course Requirement

Students are required to successfully complete at least one designated “Skills” course as a requirement for graduation. Courses satisfying this requirement will be so noted in the registration materials for the particular semester or session. Students may choose which skills course in which to enroll, but may not “double-dip” by taking one course to satisfy both the Skills and the Drafting Requirements.

Drafting Course Requirement

Students are required to successfully complete at least one designated “Drafting” course as a requirement for graduation. A course will be designated as satisfying the Drafting requirement only where the primary course objective is instruction in successfully drafting legal documents. Courses satisfying this requirement will be so noted in the registration materials for the particular semester or session. Students may choose which drafting course in which to enroll, but may not “double-dip” by taking one course to satisfy both the Skills and the Drafting Requirements.

The Legal Skills Course Requirement

This course [7990] is designed to develop skills necessary for the practice of law, including but not limited to: reviewing, understanding, and synthesizing discovery responses; drafting client letters; drafting persuasive and objective briefs; and performing variations of these tasks under the timed conditions required by the Multi-State Performance Test (MPT). Students are required to take this course during their second year. 

Computation of Graduation Credits: Pass/Fail Credit

In determining whether a student has earned the required number of credits for graduation, several limitations apply:

  1. Absent approval in writing from Chair of the Academic Standards Committee, no student may count more than 10 credit hours earned in courses graded on a Pass/Fail basis toward the total number of hours required for graduation;
    1. Credits earned in the Bar Preparation, the Legal Skills and the Academic Skills courses as well as the Summer Honors Course and the Presidential Honors Seminar, are exempt from this limit;
  1. No more than a total of 4 of the credit hours required for graduation may be in the form of Law Journal, Moot Court, or Independent Study credit;
  1. No more than 4 of the credit hours required for graduation may be in research assistant credit;
  1. No more than 4 of the credit hours required for graduation may be in LRAW Teaching Fellow credit; and,
  1. No more than 8 of the credit hours required for graduation may be in the form of externship credit.

Note: For students who entered prior to June 2021: no student may count more than 12 credit hours earned in courses graded on a Pass/Fail basis toward the total number of hours required for graduation. All other provisions above apply. 

The Upper-Level Writing Requirement

Students should complete their Upper-Level Writing Requirement before their final semester. A student must have satisfied his or her upper-level writing requirement by the end of the final examination period in the term the student intends to graduate.

  1. Goals of the Upper-level Writing Requirement

  • Assessment of written communication skills;
  • Assessment of citation skills;
  • Assessment of researching skills;
  • Assessment of critical-thinking skills;
  • Assessment of a student’s ability to evaluate the law;
  • Assessment of a student’s ability to synthesize the law; and
  • Assessment of a student’s ability to analyze the law.
  1. Upper-level Writing Requirements

    1. Requirements Generally

Each student must complete a substantial paper that, in the judgment of the reviewing professor: 

  1. Is the original work product of the student;
  2. Reflects substantial, thorough legal research;
  3. Describes the status of the existing law;
  4. Reflects competent clarity, organization, style, editing, and citation; and
  5. Includes substantial, original, and competent analysis that evaluates the law and contributes to the discipline (e.g., a scholarly article, an amicus brief, or a practitioner's guide, etc.).
  1. Other Requirements

In addition to the above requirements:

  1. The document must be no less than 5,000 words of text, exclusive of footnotes and endnotes;
  2. A thesis statement and/or detailed research proposal, an annotated outline, draft document and final document must be submitted by the student on or before deadlines set by the faculty member; and,    
  3. Each component (i.e., thesis statements, outlines, etc.) must be submitted so that the faculty member can provide feedback on the component and the student can fully act on that feedback while producing the next component.
  4. During the semester in which the student writes his or her paper, the student must also take and successfully complete the Upper-Level Writing Workshop (course number 5550).
  1. Faculty Certification of Satisfaction

The supervising faculty member must certify in writing using the appropriate form from the Office of the Registrar that the student has met all the requirements set forth above. This Certification Form must be on file with the Office of the Registrar in order for the student’s record to reflect satisfaction of the Upper-Level Writing Requirement.

  1. Eligibility

A student must have satisfactorily completed 27 credit hours before commencing the Upper-Level Writing Requirement. The paper must be prepared under the supervision of a full-time member of the faculty. With the prior approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, the paper may be prepared under the supervision of an adjunct professor teaching a course pursuant to 5.a. below.

  1. Supervision Requirement

The supervision requirement may be satisfied:

  1. By taking a designated upper level writing course, which will typically be limited to 20 students, in which the student writes an original paper complying with the writing requirement, as set forth in B.1. and 2. above, and earns a grade of B or better on the paper.
  1. Through independent study supervised by a faculty member, with prior approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The proposal must comply with the Independent Study Requirements which limit projects eligible for independent study and the proposal must be approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. To receive credit for the Upper-Level Writing requirement, the supervising professor must certify that the student has complied with the requirements set forth in B.1. and 2. above, and that the completed paper is of sufficient quality that the student would have received a grade of B or better if the paper had been submitted for a graded course; or
  1. A student who is a member of the Charleston Law Review or the Charleston Law Journal of Law & Policy may satisfy the Upper-Level Writing Requirement through a paper written for the journal. Students must satisfy the requirements for Law Review CreditThe paper must be completed under the supervision of a faculty member, with prior approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The faculty sponsor must certify that the student has satisfied all the requirements set forth in B.1. and 2. above. The faculty supervisor also must certify that the completed paper is of sufficient quality that the student would have received a grade of B or better if the paper had been submitted for a graded course.
  1. Double Dipping

Students may not submit one paper for two or more courses. If a student wishes to create a second paper which draws in any way on work previously used for academic credit, the student must consult with both the instructor to whom the initial work was submitted and with the instructor to whom the new work will be submitted. Before the student may use the prior work, both instructors must certify in writing to the Curriculum Committee that the new work is of sufficiently greater scope or depth to warrant the use of the prior work for the Upper-Level Writing Requirement. The instructors involved in each instance should discuss appropriate ways to ensure the submitted work meets this greater burden before giving their written approval of the proposed use.

  • This rule applies to papers whether written at the Law School or elsewhere. A student who submits the same, or substantially the same, work in more than one course – whether it is the whole of the second work or only a portion thereof – without obtaining such prior written approval, will be subject to disciplinary action.
  1. Other

When designated as an option in the course registration materials for any given semester, students may take a skills or drafting course to satisfy the Upper-Level Writing Requirement; however, students may not use the same course to satisfy both the Skills or Drafting Course Requirement and the Upper-Level Writing Requirement.

Professional Identity Formation (Professionalism) Series Requirement

It is the stated objective of the Charleston School of Law to provide substantial opportunities for students to develop their Professional Identity.

The American Bar Association defines “Professional Identity” to include, “the knowledge, skills, values and morals, goals, and personality traits considered foundational to successful legal practice.”  To that end, the School of Law encourages its administration, faculty, students, and student organizations to plan and deliver events throughout the year that promote professional identity development for all members of our diverse community.

Each semester the Department of Student Affairs coordinates the Charleston School of Law Professional Identity Formation Series, which presents students with real-world insight into the role of professionalism in the practice of law. The goal of the lecture series is to instill in students an understanding of the practice of law as a profession aimed at providing public service. Guest lecturers represent a wide range of well-respected judges and practicing attorneys.

Professional Identity Formation Series Attendance Policy 

There are at least 6 events per semester. To fulfill the graduation requirement and to receive credit for attending the series, students must attend 18 lectures. The Law School will record attendance by Student Affairs staff scanning students’ ID cards prior to each lecture. Any student who arrives more than 10 minutes late for the program will not receive credit for attending. A student may leave a program no more than 15 minutes before their next scheduled class. It is a potential Honor Code violation to sign the attendance form for the lecture and leave, outside of the exception above. Actual attendance at the lectures is mandatory. Some 2021-2022 Professional Identity Formation events may be conducted virtually where attendance will be recorded.

Students may check their attendance on CSOL Access. Students are responsible for monitoring the number of programs they attend. There may not be any reminder emails or letters sent out to students regarding their lecture attendance.

Pro Bono Requirement and Pro Bono Program

As part of the Charleston School of Law’s mission to instill a commitment to public service in its students and graduates, the Career Services Department’s Director of Public Service and Pro Bono develops and assists in the coordination of a wide variety of pro bono opportunities for students. These placements allow students to work with attorneys practicing in the public interest legal sector and meet or exceed the pro bono work the Law School requires for graduation. Students matriculating on or after June 2019 must complete 50 hours of pro bono work. Students matriculating before June 2019 must complete 30 hours of pro bono work.  The Director of Public Service and Pro Bono works to provide all students with the opportunity to experience meaningful pro bono service in a broad range of contexts.

Students begin fulfilling their pro bono requirement after they have completed one semester of law school. During their first semester students may earn pro bono credit for specially designated programs the Director of Public Service and Pro Bono has pre-approved.

Each student is responsible for selecting a placement, contacting that office, arranging to do the work, completing the work, and submitting the required pro bono certification form to the pro bono office. To qualify for credit, the work must be law-related and supervised by a licensed attorney. Clerical work is appropriate only to the extent needed to carry out the overall legal task.

Generally, students will receive pro bono credit when a student works on an unpaid basis for a public interest attorney or for a private attorney when he or she has taken a case on a pro bono or court appointed basis. A public interest attorney is an attorney employed by a host organization that is of an educational, charitable, governmental, or non-profit nature.

The Director of Public Service and Pro Bono has developed a list of pre-approved pro bono sites. The supervising attorney at these sites has agreed to allow students to contact him or her to inquire whether the student might be able to perform pro bono work for the attorney. To receive credit for performing work at sites not on the pre-approved pro bono site list, students must obtain pre-approval from the Director of Public Service and Pro Bono.

The Director of Public Service and Pro Bono also will review requests from transfer students to transfer no more than the required hours of pro bono work earned after the student has completed one or two semesters at another law school, depending on when the student began law school. The work must meet all Charleston School of Law requirements and the student must show exceptional circumstances that would make it difficult for the student to complete pro bono work while at the Charleston School of Law. 

All students must complete a form on CORE (Career Services’ computer database) which addresses ethical and administrative issues regarding pro bono service. Additionally, students must submit their pro bono hours on CORE. All May, August, and December graduates must complete their requirement and submit their certification by the last day of the final exam period immediately before their graduation date. Failure to meet the pro bono service and reporting requirements will affect a student’s ability to graduate.

Students who exceed the pro bono requirement should report their additional hours of service. Students reporting 100 or more hours of pro bono service will receive special recognition at graduation.

Diversity Training Requirement

The below requirement is effective with the Fall 2023 entering class.

Pursuant to ABA Standard 303(c) and Charleston School of Law academic standards, students are required to attend at least two educational events focused specifically on bias, cross-cultural competency, racism, discrimination, and diversity. As set forth below, students must attend the first event during Orientation, and the second event either by attending at least one designated Professionalism Identity Formation Series event or as part of earning academic credit in an Externship or Clinic.

Students are encouraged to attend other educational opportunities focused on bias, cross-cultural competency, racism, discrimination, and diversity, to reinforce their obligation as future lawyers to work to eliminate discrimination in the legal profession.

First-Year Law Students: At the mandatory Orientation, students must attend a session on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism. Students who fail to attend the designated session will be required to attend another session within the first two weeks of classes.

Graduation Requirement: Prior to graduation, all law students, except for students earning academic credit in an Externship or Clinic (see below), must attend at least one Professionalism Identity Formation Series event specifically focused on education on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.  Events satisfying this requirement will be so designated and attendance will be recorded and noted in the student’s degree audit.

Externships and Clinical Courses:  Students who earn academic credit in an Externship or Clinic must attend an educational presentation focused on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism. This presentation will either be part of Orientation for the course(s) or will be taken concurrently with the course(s). The Director of Externships and the Director of Clinics will certify students as having attended such presentation when final grades are submitted for the respective course.