1. Experiential Education Courses
2. Directed Research
3. Teaching Assistants
4. Student Publications
5. Moot Court Competitions
6. Other Competitions
7. Pro Bono Initiatives
8. ABA-Approved Study Abroad Programs
9. Individual Programs at Foreign Law Schools
All students must earn at least six credits in courses designated as “experiential.” Course descriptions identify whether a course fulfills the experiential education requirement. Experiential education courses include clinics, externships, simulations, and labs.
College Council – April 7, 2020
a. Objectives of Directed Research
Directed research enables the student to pursue a depth of knowledge in a discrete subject, tailored to the professional and intellectual interests of the student. This can be done either through a student developing a thesis and research agenda, culminating in a significant academic research paper (a “Track 1 Directed Research Project”), or through conducting research in conjunction with a faculty member but without writing a significant academic research paper (a “Track 2 Directed Research Project”).
b. Supervision of Directed Research
Directed Research Projects must be supervised by a full-time member of the College of Law faculty, or by a full-time faculty member in cooperation with (1) a non-full-time College of Law faculty member, (2) a faculty member from another college at the University of Utah, or (3) a faculty member of another university.
c. Track 1 Directed Research Projects
Students who desire to explore a particular aspect of a subject may do so through a Track 1 Directed Research Project. Track 1 Directed Research Projects may be pursued on topics that are not regularly offered as a course in the College of Law, or on topics that the student wishes to pursue in greater depth than course coverage would ordinarily permit.
(1) No single semester Track 1 Directed Research Project may be undertaken for less than 1 credit hour, nor for more than 3 credits hours. However, a student may register for a two-semester Track 1 Directed Research Project of up to 6 credit hours with a single project proposal.
(2) A Track 1 Directed Research Project may not be used as a substitute for a regularly offered course that the student has not taken, even if the regularly scheduled course is full, nor may it be used as a mechanism for teaching assistance or for research assistance absent independent educational value otherwise consistent with this policy. A directed research project cannot fulfill the College of Law experiential requirement, or consist primarily of skills-based rather than scholarly work product.
(3) A Track 1 Directed Research Project may only be used to satisfy the Seminar Paper requirement if it (i) replicates the rigor of a Seminar Paper and complies with all requirements of a Seminar Paper, (ii) fills a clearly defined gap that is not otherwise met by the law school curriculum, and (iii) receives advance approval from the supervising faculty member and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs that it satisfies requirements (i) and (ii) herein.
(4) A low-credit Track 1 Directed Research Project may be undertaken to accompany an externship and to serve as the classroom component for that externship. In this case, the writing will include a reflective journal regarding the work which will be periodically shared with the supervising faculty member(s) and the final written work product should arise out of the externship experience.
(5) No student may undertake more than one Track 1 Directed Research Project in a single semester.
(6) Prior to registration for a Track 1 Directed Research Project, the following requirements must be met:
(i) The student shall submit a written statement of thesis to the supervising faculty member that describes the scope and content of the project and the criteria to justify the credit to be granted. In the case of a directed research project accompanying an arranged clinical placement, the written statement will describe the nature of the placement and expected areas(s) of study.
(ii) The supervising faculty member shall sign the statement of thesis to indicate approval of the project described and the credit to be awarded on completion.
(iii) The statement of thesis with signed approval of the faculty member shall be submitted to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for approval. Approved projects shall be submitted to the Registrar and placed in the permanent file of the student at the College of Law.
(7) While no absolute criteria for Track 1 Directed Research Projects are possible or desirable, faculty and students shall comply with the following guidelines in formulating and approving directed research projects:
(i) A substantial and scholarly paper reflecting approximately 50 hours of research or study, writing, and consultation with faculty for each credit hour of directed research is expected.
(ii) Several written analyses of specific problems may be an appropriate substitute for a single paper. Legal research need not be confined to library research, but may include empirical research or study. Where appropriate, the supervising faculty member may use substantial tutorial discussion in lieu of research, but may not dispense with the requirement of a scholarly written product.
(8) Track 1 Directed Research Projects either may be graded or taken on a credit/no credit basis, as determined at the outset by the supervising faculty member.
d. Track 2 Directed Research Projects
Students who desire to explore a particular aspect of a subject while learning research skills but without completing a significant academic research paper may do so through a Track 2 Directed Research Project. Track 2 Directed Research Projects may be pursued on topics that are not regularly offered as a course in the College of Law, on topics that the student wishes to pursue in greater depth than course coverage would ordinarily permit, or on topics for which the supervising faculty member is conducting research or producing scholarship.
(1) Prior to registration for a Track 2 Directed Research Project, the following requirements must be met:
(i) The student shall submit a statement that summarizes the Track 2 Directed Research Project to be performed, including the scope and content of the project and the criteria to justify the credit to be granted.
(ii) The supervising faculty member shall sign the statement to indicate approval of the project described and the credit to be awarded on completion.
(iii) The faculty-approved statement shall be submitted to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for approval. Approved projects shall be submitted to the Registrar and placed in the permanent file of the student at the College of Law.
(2) While no absolute criteria for Track 2 Directed Research Projects are possible or desirable, faculty and students shall comply with the following guidelines in formulating and approving such projects:
(i) Work product reflecting approximately 50 hours of research or study, writing, and consultation with faculty for each credit hour of Track 2 Directed Research is expected.
(ii) The student shall provide the faculty member with a weekly written log of hours worked and research performed.
(iii) Students participating in a Track 2 Directed Research Project must complete contemporaneous journals of the work they perform, and at semester’s end submit either a summative self-reflection paper describing what they learned by conducting the research or such other written work (e.g., a memorandum summarizing their research) as agreed upon by the student and faculty member and approved in the initial application for Track 2 Directed Research credit by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
(3) Track 2 Directed Research Projects may not be taken for more than 2 credits per semester and must be taken on a pass/fail basis. Track 2 Directed Research Projects shall not satisfy the Seminar Paper requirement.
e. Credit Limitation on Directed Research Projects
No student may count more than 6 total credit hours of any type (Track 1 or Track 2) Directed Research Projects toward satisfaction of the J.D. requirements. (A student wishing to pursue directed research in excess of the maximum limits is free to do so; however, only the first 6 credit hours will be counted toward graduation. The grade and credit in the excess hours will be indicated on the student’s transcript and will be used for the purpose of computing grade-point average.)
College Council – April 10, 1991; September 29, 1993; November 29, 2007
Students may apply to be Legal Methods Teaching Assistants or Academic Support Teaching Assistants. Applications are taken during spring semester.
b. Objectives of service as a teaching assistant
Service as a teaching assistant enables the student to enhance his or her knowledge in a particularly effective manner; that is, the mastery of a subject or skill that comes only with the responsibility for teaching it to others. Academic credit for teaching assistantships should be given only where the student’s efforts further his or her legal education. To the extent there are other purposes for an assistantship (e.g., relieving faculty burdens or delegating administrative responsibilities), these shall be compensated in some form other than academic credit.
Teaching assistantships are allowed subject to the following requirements:
(1) Beginning in 1990-91, any teaching assistantship other than for the legal writing and academic support programs shall receive monetary compensation rather than academic credit.
(2) Academic credit (rather than monetary compensation) may be granted to teaching assistants in the legal methods and academic support programs. For each credit hour granted, students are expected to expend approximately 50 hours of work in preparing materials and methodology for teaching, consulting and reviewing with supervising faculty and teaching students.
(3) Supervising faculty shall have sole discretion in selecting students to serve as their teaching assistants.
(4) Credit shall be awarded by the supervising faculty member on a graded basis for the legal methods and academic support programs. Teaching assistants in the academic support program wishing to assist for a second, different course will receive upgraded credit for the second course.
(5) Before credit or no credit is given, the supervising faculty member must prepare and place in the student’s permanent file a memorandum that describes the student’s work and the nature and extent of the faculty supervision, and gives a general evaluation of the student’s performance as a teaching assistant.
College Council – May 13, 1986; April 4, 1990; April 29, 1990
4. Student Publications
The following scholarly journals are published by students. Members of the journals are chosen from summer writing competitions following spring semester exams. Non-graded credit may be received for participating on a journal. A student may not participate on more than one journal at a time.
a. Journal of Law & Family Studies
The Journal of Law & Family Studies (JLFS) addresses topics relating to family and juvenile law as well as a broad variety of issues relevant to family law in a broader sense. JLFS publishes articles involving doctrinal, practical, and theoretical issues in family law as well as articles from various related disciplines including sociology, psychology, economics, family and consumer studies, and history.
b. Utah Environmental Law Review
The Utah Environmental Law Review (UELR) is a multi-disciplinary journal focusing on natural resources and environmental law and policy. It publishes manuscripts from legal, literary, scientific and other disciplines concerned with environmental issues. UELR is committed to promoting public education and dialogue on natural resource and environmental policy.
c. Utah Law Review
The Utah Law Review is a journal of critical analysis and commentary on current legal problems. The summer writing competition and a student’s cumulative law school GPA determine selection of Law Review staff at the end of the first year of law school. Second year students also have the opportunity to write-on to Law Review at the end of their second year. Law Review selection will be accomplished without disclosure to the Law Review members of individually identifiable rank or GPA of the candidates.
College Council – May 13, 1986, October 18, 1989
a. Traynor Moot Court
Traynor Moot Court is a one semester class open to all second and third year students during spring semester. Teams of two research and write an appellate brief and participate in multiple rounds of oral argument. Eight teams advance to the semi-final rounds. The two top scoring teams advance to the final round. Preliminary rounds are judged by members of the local bar and judiciary. The final round is judged by the College of Law’s David T. Lewis Distinguished Jurist in Residence and two other prominent judges. Final rounds are generally held in April.
b. National Moot Court Competition
The top six students from the Traynor Moot Court Competition are invited to represent the College of Law in the National Moot Court Competition as third year students. Finalists in regional competitions advance to the national finals. Team members also receive credit for serving as brief judges of the Traynor Moot Court competition, which uses the same problem.
c. Appellate Advocacy Competitions
Participation in appellate advocacy competitions is available to advanced students.
- Participation in appellate advocacy competitions is dependent upon appropriate faculty supervision, completition of pre- or co-requisite courses, and available funding. (Preference for participation in appellate advocacy competitions will be given to third year students.)
- The Traynor Moot Court course is a pre-requisite for participation in the National Moot Court Competition.
- Students who desire to participate in an appellate advocacy competition in a specific subject, such as environmental law or patent law, are required to take at least one course in the substantive area of law related to the competition.
- Students are strongly encouraged, but not required, to take Appellate Practice.
- Students participating in appellate advocacy competitions must complete the appropriate paperwork available from the Registrar’s office. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs must approve and sign off on a student’s request to compete.
College Council – March 25, 1999; April 25, 2002
6. Other Competitions
One credit competition courses are available to support students’ entry in a range of skills competitions available regionally and nationally, following the students’ outstanding performance in the related pre-requisite skills course.
Competition courses may be offered, upon invitation by the supervising faculty member, to a limited number of students in the following areas:
- Trial Advocacy Competition – following completion of the Trial Advocacy course
- Negotiation Competition – following completion of the Lawyering Skills course
- Counseling Competiton – following completion of the Lawyering Skills course
- Mediation Competition – following completion of the Alternative Dispute Resolution course
Whether any particular competition course is offered will depend upon available funding for expenses related to the competition.
College Council – March 25, 1999
7. Pro Bono Initiatives
The Pro Bono Initiative is a voluntary program offered by the College of Law to emphasize the importance of public service in the legal profession. The goal of the program is to create a greater awareness among law students of a lawyer’s ethical obligation to provide legal services at no fee or a reduced fee to public service, charitable, not for profit organizations, or individuals of limited means, and to introduce students to unexplored areas of law and methods of practice.
The Pro Bono Initiative encourages all students to perform fifty hours of law-related volunteer work under the guidance of a supervising attorney before graduation. The Initiative office will facilitate this work by developing pro bono placements with attorney supervision and matching students with appropriate assignments. First year students, following their first semester, and second and third year students are encouraged to participate.
8. ABA-Approved Study Abroad Programs
a. Educational Objectives
The College of Law encourages students who have academic or career objectives that will be served by participation in a program of legal study outside of the United States to pursue such a program. The study of foreign law and practice outside the United States can provide a practical as well as theoretical basis for comparing the American and foreign legal systems, including observing differences in professional responsibilities, practices and procedures. Three basic opportunities are available to College of Law students, all of which are limited to students who are second or third-year candidates for the J.D. degree:
(1) Study at a foreign, ABA-approved Semester Abroad Program with credit to be granted towards the J.D. degree. The London Law Consortium, in which the College of Law participates, is one of these opportunities.
(2) Study in a summer program conducted by an accredited American law school(s) at an overseas site.
(3) An individual program of legal study at a foreign university.
b. ABA-Approved Programs
Qualified programs are approved annually by the American Bar Association Section on Legal Education. Any student in good academic standing may enroll in such a program and receive academic credit toward the J.D. degree. Prior to enrollment in such a program, a student is encouraged to consult with the Dean or Dean of Student Affairs to assure that the contemplated program has received the necessary approval from the American Bar Association Section on Legal Education and that all requirements for College of Law credit recognition are also met.
College Council – December 7, 1983
ABA Criteria for Approval of Semester
Abroad Programs and Foreign Summer Programs
A student participating in a study abroad program may receive credit only for courses in which the student receives a minimum grade of “C”. Courses successfully completed will be credited on the students’ transcript, but will not be computed into the students’ GPA.
a. A student in good academic standing who has completed all first-year requirements may submit a specific program of study to the College of Law Curriculum Committee. No program of study may be undertaken without prior approval of the Curriculum Committee.
b. In addition to obtaining Curriculum Committee approval, the student must be admitted to study at the chosen foreign law school and must meet its requirements for eligibility and registration. The chosen foreign institution shall be one that provides an academic program leading to a first degree in law. The institution shall be one that is (a) government sanctioned or accredited, if educational institutions are state regulated within the country, (b) recognized or accredited by an evaluation body, if such a body exists within the country, or (c) chartered to award degrees in law by the appropriate authority within the country.
c. Individual programs will vary according to the individual student’s goals in undertaking the program. The student’s selection of courses must be approved in advance by the Curriculum Committee. The academic content of the course work and the methods employed to evaluate student performance shall meet the same standards employed at the College of Law. Credit for individual research shall not exceed the limits for directed research at the College of Law.
d. An individual member of the College of Law faculty shall be selected by the student, in consultation with the Curriculum Committee, to supervise the work of the student. The faculty supervisor shall be responsible for determining the College of Law credit to be granted and shall provide such supervision to any individual research project as appropriate.
e. Before the study abroad commences, a representative of the foreign institution must give written assurance to the College of Law that the student’s proposed objectives can be achieved at the institution. The student must have full-time faculty supervisor at foreign institution. If a foreign law school advisor or faculty member is available pursuant to the foreign study program, it is contemplated that the College of Law faculty supervisor shall consult with the foreign law school advisor and/or faculty concerning these responsibilities.
f. Before commencing study at a foreign institution, the student shall provide the College of Law faculty supervisor with a written plan defining the educational objectives sought by the student. The faculty supervisor shall review the student’s written plan, and shall establish a method of evaluating the student’s performance. Any grade accorded by the foreign law school shall be translated by the individual faculty supervisor in consultation with the foreign law school for the purposes of establishing pass/fail grade according to College of Law academic standards (if applicable).
g. A student who participates in an individual study abroad program may not receive more than 12 semester hours of credit toward a J.D. degree for such study.
(1) Although a student may be permitted to take courses in foreign programs in both one semester and one summer, the total credits approved in such summer and semester shall not exceed 22 credits [twenty-five (25) percent of the 88 semester hours credits required for graduation].
(2) The foreign study shall be considered as in residence study for the purposes of the J.D. degree requirements.
h. At least forty-five (45) days prior to scheduled enrollment in the foreign institution, a pre-visit notification form, available from the Registrar, must be completed and submitted to the ABA for approval. In addition, a Petition for Study Abroad Credit, available from the Registrar, must be submitted and approved by the College of Law Curriculum Committee.
Absent a determination by both the ABA and the College of Law Curriculum Committee that the proposed course of study complies with the ABA and College of Law criteria, credit will not be given for work undertaken at a foreign institution.
College Council -December 7, 1983;
ABA Criteria for Approval of Individual
Student Study Abroad for Academic Credit