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Graduation Requirements

Residency Points and Academic Credits

A candidate for a J.D. degree must have completed:  

  • 6.0 semester residency points, and

  • 84 academic credits of work, including the credits earned while completing the required, or so-called “first-year” curriculum, and the elective, or “upper-level” curriculum. Of the 84 total credits, at least 75 (for the Class of 2013) and 78 (for all subsequent classes) must not be “soft” credit and at least 60 must be taken in “in-class law” courses.

No “soft” credit enterprises, journal and moot court participation, other unscheduled credit, or clinic and interdisciplinary (non-law) coursework can be applied toward this 60-credit requirement.

Mandatory Course in Legal Ethics

All students must successfully complete a one-semester course in legal ethics in order to graduate. Either of the following courses satisfies the requirement: Legal Profession or Professional Responsibility. These are duplicate courses. Therefore, students may take only one of them.

Graduation Writing Requirement

In addition to the required curriculum and the mandatory course in legal ethics, all students must satisfy the upper class writing requirement prior to graduation. Students may meet the graduation writing requirement by completing a piece of work including critical analysis of a legal question and which may include professional papers such as pleadings which are the consequence of analytic work. Normally, the work will be at least 25 doubled-spaced typed pages, and must be completed one semester prior to graduation (unless prior permission to do it during the last semester has been obtained from Dean Rothman). Some examples of ways to meet this requirement are:

  1. Submission of a paper of sufficient length and depth in an upper level course or seminar,

  2. Submission of a publishable note submitted to the Rutgers Law Review, Computer and Technology Journal, the Race and Law Review or the Women’s Rights Law Reporter. Students enrolled in the Rutgers Law Record may use their Law Record note/article to satisfy the Graduation Writing Requirement under limited circumstances. Please consult with Dean Rothman or the appropriate faculty advisor for more information,

  3. Completion of one full semester in any Rutgers School of Law–Newark clinic,

  4. Completion of the Appellate Advocacy course,

  5. Submission of a competition brief for an intramural or interscholastic competition (only if produced alone, and not as a team effort with one or more team members), and

  6. Submission of a substantial scholarly paper completed in a supervised independent research enterprise. N.B.: You may not use credits earned in Judicial Externships, or as a Research or Teaching Assistant to meet the graduation writing requirement.

The faculty member who certifies a paper as satisfying this requirement must be satisfied that the paper is of adequate quality, and may find the paper inadequate for certification even if the student received a passing grade on the paper. For Appellate Advocacy and clinics, no separate paper need be written, but the academic requirements of the individual course or clinics must be met. 

“Skills” Course Requirement

Professional skills courses teach skills needed to effectively and responsibly engage in the practice of law. They also provide an excellent vehicle to build upon substantive course work through application in a practice setting. Professional skills include appellate advocacy skills, interviewing skills, litigation skills, transactional skills, negotiation skills, mediation skills, legal drafting skills, legal problem solving skills, legislative drafting and advanced legal research and legal writing skills, and other legal practice skills. Each skills course includes opportunities to engage in mock skills exercises requiring the judgment, analytic reasoning and application of law in a practice context and to receive individualized feedback. The faculty for skills courses includes not only full-time faculty, but experienced practitioners. 

Students are required to complete at least one skills course for graduation from this list.