Academic Programs Catalog

College of Law

College of Law

Lawrence Ponoroff, DEAN

HISTORY AND AFFILIATION WITH MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

Michigan State University College of Law represents the functional academic integration and collaboration between a private law school and a Big Ten university.

Founded in 1891, the Michigan State University College of Law remains one of the oldest continuously operating independent law schools in the United States. The law school affiliated with Michigan State University  in 1995  to extend its academic excellence and offer more interdisciplinary programs to its students and to provide Michigan State University with a law school fully accredited by the American Bar Association. The law school has been a member of the Association of American Law Schools since 1946. In 1997, the law school moved from Detroit to its state-of-the-art law building in the heart of Michigan State University 's East Lansing campus.

Through the affiliation, the programs and identities of the two institutions are aligned, and the Michigan State University  College of Law faculty and students are able to participate fully in Michigan State University  academic life. The name change and full academic participation were approved by the law school’s Board of Trustees on April 14, 2004 and by the Michigan State University Board of Trustees on April 16, 2004 . The law school now fully participates in the same manner as MSU's constituent colleges, although it remains financially independent and receives no state or Michigan State University funding.

Mission

The mission of the Michigan State University College of Law is to provide a rigorous educational program, preparing a diverse community of students to become leaders in private legal practice, business and industry, government service, and legal education. The Law College draws upon a century of service, an association with a major research institution, a commitment to broad educational access, scholarly excellence, and service to society.

The Law College teaches core legal skills, supplemented with academic concentrations, specialized programs, and scholarly research. The college stresses ethics, good lawyering, professionalism, and service. Consistent with these values, it instructs students in the arts of client representation and trial advocacy, and the tenets of legal principles, private rights, and public policy.

The Law College strives continuously to strengthen academic quality in all of its programs and activities. The college is committed to offering opportunities for professional growth, innovation, research, and scholarship to its faculty. The faculty embraces its mandate to provide excellence in instruction with significant contributions to legal research, public service, and community outreach. The staff contributes service, support, and creativity.

The Law College aspires to preserve its educational heritage while seeking sound innovation through a flexible and creative program of academic growth, development, and opportunity. The College fosters an environment of trust, collegiality, and inclusion for faculty, students, and staff.

Legal Education

The Michigan State University College of Law legal education program leading to a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree is designed to offer integrated learning, combining theory with practice. The Law College wants its graduates to be ready to practice law in real-world settings. This goal is accomplished in and out of the classroom. The classroom provides skill-based learning — especially writing and advocacy skills — and legal theory. Out of the classroom, experiential learning opportunities such as internships, externships, and clinical experiences provide opportunities to apply classroom lessons.

A distinction of an Michigan State University Law education is the substantive collaboration with other disciplines and programs at Michigan State University. College areas of focus and certificate programs allow students to build expertise in a specific area of law, and include opportunities to take graduate-level courses throughout MSU. This interdisciplinary approach to legal education results in a greater understanding of how law is practiced in society and how it affects other disciplines. For those who wish to take Integrated learning a step further, dual-degree programs allow students to earn both a law degree and another graduate degree in four years. Of particular note is the dual-degree program with the University of Ottawa School of Law, which enables students to earn the U.S. and Canadian  J.D. in four years. This program provides a deeper understanding of international law and practice in cross-border situations.

Michigan State University  Law offers other degree opportunities:  The Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree is designed for students who have earned their J.D., LL.B. or comparable law degree.   The Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.) degree is designed for individuals who do not have a law degree, such as doctoral students in other disciplines, policymakers, government officials, business executives, intellectual property agents, journalists, media professionals, scientists and computer programmers. The Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.) degree in Legal Doctrine and Analysis is designed for students who have met the admission criteria for the J.D. degree and have successfully completed the first-year required J.D. curriculum.


 


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Juris Doctor

Juris Doctor

Admission

Admission to the J.D. program is based on the following:

  1. applicant's academic record;
  2. applicant's Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score;
  3. applicant's professional accomplishments; and
  4. recommendations from persons with knowledge of the applicant’s capability to participate in a rigorous professional-level academic program.
The admissions process identifies individuals who have the potential to excel in their legal studies and the practice of law. In order to be considered for fall-term admission, an applicant must:
  1. possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university prior to enrollment;
  2. create an account with the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), register for and complete the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and sign up for the Credential Assembly Service;
  3. provide an official transcript to the LSAC for each undergraduate and graduate institution attended;
  4. submit two letters of recommendation or evaluations to the LSAC (up to four letters/evaluations will be accepted);
  5. submit an application fee (contact the Michigan State University College of Law Office of Admissions to request a fee waiver if you are unable, for financial reasons, to provide this fee;
  6. submit a resume of up to two pages;
  7. submit a personal statement of up to three pages;
  8. submit a supplemental statement if you respond in the affirmative to any questions in the Character and Fitness section of the application.
An applicant file will not be reviewed until all materials are received by the Michigan State University College of Law Office of Admissions and are reviewed on a “rolling” basis.

Of the 88 credit hours needed to graduate with a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, required courses consist of the following:

1. All of the following courses:
LAW 500F Criminal Law 3
LAW 500Q Professional Responsibility 3
LAW 500G Property 4
LAW 500R Torts I 4
LAW 530A Civil Procedure 4
LAW 530B Contracts 4
LAW 530F Contract Negotiation 1
LAW 530J Advocacy 2
LAW 530K Foundations of Law 1
LAW 530S Constitutional Law and the Regulatory State 4
2. One of the following courses:
LAW 530D Research, Writing and Analysis 2
LAW 530E Research, Writing and Analysis: Intellectual Property Perspective 2
LAW 530N Research, Writing, and Analysis: Criminal Law Perspective 2
LAW 530Q Research, Writing and Analysis: Social Justice Perspectives 2
3. At least five of the following courses:
LAW 500M Business Enterprises  3 or 4
LAW  500N  Constitutional Law II  4
LAW  500P  Evidence  3 or 4
LAW  501A  Basic Income Taxation A 2
LAW 501B Basic Income Taxation B 2 to 4
LAW 501K  Basic Income Taxation   2 to 4
LAW  501D  Trusts and Estates  3 to 4
LAW  501E  Secured Transactions  2
LAW  501F  Sales and Leases  3
LAW  501J  Secured Transactions and Practice  3
LAW  501M  Commercial Transactions Survey  3
LAW  525 Torts II  2 or 3
LAW  532 Administrative Law  2 or 3
LAW  550 Conflict of Laws  3
LAW  593D  Remedies  2 to 3
LAW  616B  Criminal Procedure: Investigation  3
LAW  616C  Criminal Procedure: Adjudication  3

 A student who completed 29 credits with a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.50 may apply to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for a waiver of this requirement.  The student must submit the application prior to completing 60 credits. In addition to the required courses, students must complete at least 6 credits in an experiential course and a paper that satisfies an upper-level writing requirement. A minimum 2.0 cumulative grade-point average must be earned to satisfy degree requirements.

Students take elective courses to gain a more generalized legal education, which may be used to fulfill the requirements for a certificate or concentration program. Complete information about concentrations can be found by visiting www.law.msu.edu. The following concentrations are available:
Indigenous Law
(1) All of the following courses:
LAW 635A Advanced Topics in Indian Law 2
LAW 635B Federal Law and Indian Tribes 3
LAW 635C State, Tribal, and Local Taxation 2
(2) Six credits from the following:
LAW 501D Trusts and Estates 3 or 4
LAW 501E Secured Transactions 2
LAW 532 Administrative Law 3
LAW 541E Family Law I: Marriage and Divorce 3
LAW 550 Conflict of Laws 3
LAW 579G Federal Jurisdiction 3
LAW 616B Criminal Procedure: Investigation 3
(3) Complete an Experiential Learning experience. 3
Trial Practice
All of the following courses:
LAW 616B Criminal Procedure: Investigation 3
LAW 616C Criminal Procedure: Adjudication 3
LAW 623A Trial Practice Institute: Theatrical Skills – Advocacy as a Performing Art 1
LAW 623B Trial Practice Institute: Pretrial I  3
LAW 623C Trial Practice Institute : Pretrial II 2
LAW 623D Trial Practice Institute : Trial I 3
LAW 623E Trial Practice Institute : Trial II 3
LAW 623F Trial Practice Institute: Forensic Science 2
LAW 623G Technology Enhanced Trial Advocacy 0
LAW 623J Trial Practice Institute: Trial Practicum 1
Students in the Trial Practice concentration may not receive credit towards the requirements of the Juris Doctor degree for the following courses: Law 587B, 587C, 590A, 591A, 617A, and 617B. The content of these courses are duplicate of the content of courses required for the Trial Practice concentration.

Full-and Part-time Programs

The American Bar Association (ABA) sets requirements for the study of law at all of the law schools it has accredited. The residency requirement states that students must attend classes a prescribed number of days and weeks. Full-time students at the Michigan State University College of Law complete their J.D. degree in three years. A student may accelerate by completing some course work in the summer. The time limit for the completion of the requirements for the J.D. degree is seven calendar years from the date of enrollment in the first courses included for degree certification. The degree may not be completed in less than two calendar years.


Full-time Program

The Michigan State University College of Law full-time program is designed for students who can devote most of their time to the study of law. By definition, full-time students do not hold employment that requires them to work more than 20 hours a week or have other commitments which preclude them from focusing exclusively on their legal studies. Classes are held at varying times between 8:00 a.m. and 9:45 p.m., Monday through Friday, and a normal course load is 14 to 16 credit hours per semester.

 


Part-time Program

The Michigan State University College of Law part-time day option offers a flexible alternative to our full-time program. Students who elect this option can customize their schedules to fit their needs. Students who pursue this option either work more than 20 hours per week or have other commitments that are not conducive for full-time study.

 


Summer Session

Both full- and part-time students may enroll in a seven-week summer session. Most summer program courses require prior legal education. Students who have not completed the first-year curriculum may be limited in their course selection because they may not satisfy course prerequisites.

 


Master of Laws Programs

The Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Master of Jurisprudence (M.J.) programs are open to both domestic and international students. Participants may enroll on either a full-time or part-time basis.

The LL.M. program provides a rigorous academic program to advance the legal training of those who already hold a J.D., LL.B. or an equivalent law degree. The M.J. program provides an equivalent academic program, without the opportunity for licensure to practice law, for students who do not have a law degree.

The M.J. in Legal Doctrine and Analysis is only offered after a student has successfully completed the first-year required J.D. curriculum.

Admission

Admission to the LL.M. or M.J. program, with the exception of the M.J. in Legal Doctrine and Analysis is based on the:

  1. applicants academic record;
  2. applicants professional accomplishments; and
  3. recommendations from persons with knowledge of the applicant’s capability to participate in a rigorous graduate-level academic program.

Applicants must submit all of the following items:

  1. a brief statement of interest in the Michigan State University’s College of Law LL.M. or M.J. program. The statement may be one or two pages in length and should be a sample of professional writing sufficient to demonstrate comprehension of writing skills in English.
  2. two or more letters of recommendation.
  3. transcripts indicating degrees earned. Unofficial transcripts may be sent with your application, however official transcripts must be received prior to enrollment. If the transcripts are not in English, the transcripts must be translated and certified or notarized. Transcript information will be verified for the College of Law by an independent transcript evaluation service.
  4. the scores from an English Language Proficiency test, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE A), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Unofficial test results may be sent; however, official scores must be received prior to enrollment.

International applicants must provide evidence of sufficient financial support to fulfill the program, including tuition, books, medical insurance and living expenses during the program, and proof of medical insurance.

LL.M. and M.J. in Global Food Law

Both degree programs are offered entirely online and are designed for working professionals in the food and agriculture industry, law, government, and related areas who wish to enhance their working knowledge or to seek careers in the field of international food law.  Students should have an earned Juris Doctor (J.D.), Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.), or comparable law degree.

Academic Requirements

All students must complete 24 credits within five academic years with a 2.0 minimum cumulative grade-point average. Students who are pursuing the M.J. degree must complete an additional 2 credits in item 3. below.

1. All of the following courses (9 credits):
LAW 810A Food Regulation in the United States 3
LAW 810D International Food Laws and Regulations 3
LAW 810K Administrative Law: Focus on Food Safety and Labeling 3
2. At least 15 credits from the following courses:
LAW 512B International Business Transactions 3
LAW 512K International Commercial Arbitration 3
LAW 624 Directed Study 3
LAW 810B Food Regulation in the European Union 3
LAW 810C Food Regulation in Canada 3
LAW 810E Animal Health, World Trade, and Food Safety 3
LAW 810F Codex Alimentarius: The World Food Code 3
LAW 810G Food Regulation in Latin America 3
LAW 810J Food Regulation in Asia 3
LAW 810M Regulation of Agricultural Production and Marketing 3
LAW 810N Survey of Intellectual Property in Agriculture 3
LAW 810P Biotechnology Law and Food Products 3
LAW 810Q Global Risk Regulation – Food Focus 3
LAW 810R United States Food Imports: Process, Regulations, and Food Safety 3
Additional courses may be approved by the Associate Dean for Graduate and International Programs and Director of the Global Food Law Program.
3. Students who are pursuing the M.J. degree must complete an additional 2credits in the following course:
LAW 807A Foundations of Law and Legal Research 2

LL.M. and M.J. in Intellectual Property and Communications Law

Both degree programs offer advanced course work in a full range of intellectual property and communications law.

Students are strongly encouraged to design their own courses of study with the assistance of their faculty advisors. The LL.M. and M.J. curriculum includes a wide variety of courses and seminars.

Academic Requirements

All students must complete 24 credits within two fall and spring semesters with a 2.0 minimum cumulative grade-point average. A longer time period may be granted with a waiver.

1. The following course:
LAW 804 Common Law Research, Writing and Advocacy  3
Students who have a Juris Doctor degree are not required to complete this course.
2. A minimum of two courses from the following:
LAW 533B Copyright Law  3
LAW 533K Patent Law  3
LAW 533N Trademark and Unfair Competition  3
LAW 533Q Communications Law and Policy  3
3. At least 14 credits of course work in Intellectual Property and Communication from a list of approved courses maintained in the Michigan State University College of Law.
4. Additional credits from courses listed below to meet the requirement of 24 credits. Courses used above may not be used to fulfill this requirement.
LAW 504 Antitrust Law  2
LAW 520 Entertainment Law  2
LAW 533A Advanced Patent Law  2
LAW 533C Cyber Law  3
LAW 533D E-Commerce  3
LAW 533E International Intellectual Property  2
LAW 533F Licensing Intellectual Property  2
LAW 533G Media Law  2
LAW 533J Patent Application Preparation  2
LAW 533R Patent Litigation  2
LAW 533Z Intellectual Property and Cultural Protection  2
LAW 534 Biotechnology and Pharmacy Patents  2
LAW 535D Intellectual Property Survey  3
LAW 551B Constitutional Law Topics: Free Expression  2
LAW 558S Biotechnology Law Seminar  2
LAW 609 Sports Law  2
LAW 624 Directed Study  1 to 4
LAW 625A Law Externship 3
LAW 630T Great Lakes First Amendment Law Clinic I  4
Additional relevant MSU Law or MSU courses may be used with approval by the student’s faculty advisor.
5. Students whose English language skills fall below a defined level may be required to complete an additional 6 credits in the following courses:
LAW 804C Advocacy for Foreign-Educated Lawyers 3
LAW 804D Reading Comprehension Skills for Foreign Lawyers 3

LL.M. and M.J. in the American Legal System

For many attorneys around the world, the successful practice of law requires an understanding of the American legal system. The LL.M. program in the American Legal System is designed for foreign-educated lawyers who want to advance their careers with knowledge of the laws and regulations of the United States. The M.J. is designed for individuals who do not have a law degree, who will use the knowledge to aid in understanding legal principles used in their profession, business or home countries.

Academic Requirements

All students must complete 24 credits within two academic years with a 2.0 minimum cumulative grade-point average. A longer time period may be granted with a waiver. Students pursuing the M.J. degree must complete 27 credits.

1. The following course:
LAW 804 Common Law Research, Writing and Advocacy  3
2. Three of the following courses:
LAW 500F Criminal Law  3
LAW 500R Torts I  4
LAW 616B Criminal Procedure I  3
LAW 805 Civil Litigation Practice and Procedure for Foreign Lawyers  3
LAW 806A American Constitutional Law  3
Additional relevant MSU Law courses may be used with approval by the student’s faculty advisor.
3. Additional credits in courses to meet the requirement of 24 credits. Courses used above may not be used to fulfill this requirement. Students should consult their faculty advisor for a list of approved courses.
Students whose English language skills fall below a defined level may be required to take the following courses:
LAW 804A Legal English I for Foreign Lawyers  3
LAW 804B Legal English II for Foreign Lawyers  3
4. Students pursuing the M.J. degree must complete the following course:
LAW 807A Foundations of Law and Legal Research 3

M.J. in Legal Doctrine and Analysis

This program is designed to give current J.D. students who do not plan to complete the J.D. program the opportunity to receive the M.J. degree after successfully completing the first-year J.D. curriculum.

Admission

Students must meet the admission criteria for the Juris Doctor (J.D.).

Academic Requirements

All students must complete the following:
LAW 500F Criminal Law 3
LAW 500G Property 4
LAW 500R Torts I 4
LAW 530A Civil Procedure 4
LAW 530B Contracts 4
LAW 530F Contract Negotiation 1
LAW 530J Advocacy 2
LAW 530K Foundations of Law 0 to 1
LAW 530S Constitutional Law and the Regulatory State 4
One of the following courses:
LAW 530D Research, Writing and Analysis 2
LAW 530E Research, Writing and Analysis: Intellectual Property Perspective 2
LAW 530N Research, Writing and Analysis: Criminal Law Perspective 2
LAW 530Q Research, Writing and Analysis: Social Justice Perspective 2