J.D. Graduation Requirements

Limitations on Number of Non-Traditional Credits

Some of the courses are subject to certain limitations:

  1. Only 18 credits may be earned by a student for non-law course work or externships.
  2. Only 8 credits in the aggregate may be earned by a student for Law 600 C, D, E, and F (independent study, journal editing, moot court).
  3. Some courses in the Law School are offered on a Credit/No Credit basis. There is no maximum on non-graded course credits after the first year. However, it should be noted that membership in the Order of the Coif, the national honor society for lawyers (top 10 percent), is not available to persons who take more than 25 percent of their law school work on a non-graded basis.
  4. A student may take up to 8 credits of non-required classes on a Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory (S/NS) basis. Courses taken on an S/NS basis will count as non-graded courses for the purposes of qualifying for Order of the Coif.

Required First-Year Courses

First Year Courses

New students enter only in the Autumn Quarter and must take the full-time load of required first-year courses. Because of the heavy course load, first-year students are strongly discouraged from attempting to work on even a part-time basis. The student's first-year requirements are as follows:

Required Upper Level Courses

Second- and Third-Year Courses

To graduate, a student must complete the following requirements during their second and third years of law school:

J.D. Residence Requirement

To be eligible for the J.D. degree, a student must complete at least eight quarters of study in residence. A quarter of residence credit is given for each quarter during which a student completes at least 12 credits of work. Two quarters, in each of which a student earns fewer than 12 but no less than 7 credits, may be combined to produce a quarter of residence credit.

Full-time J.D. students must register a minimum of 12 credits per quarter. To complete the J.D. degree in three years, however, a student must average 15 credits per quarter. Course Load Approval is required for students seeking to register for fewer than 12 or more than 18 credits per quarter. Permission to register for 19 or 20 credits is granted only to students whose records demonstrate the capacity to assume such a program of study successfully. Students may not enroll in more than 20 credits per quarter.

For students in concurrent degree programs, a full quarter of residence credit will be granted for a quarter in which a student completes a total of at least 12 credits of law courses and courses applied to the concurrent degree, whether or not the student will receive J.D. credit for the non-law courses.

J.D. Public Service Requirement

Public Service Requirement for JD Students in the Class of 2020 and Beyond

The public service requirement has three main goals: first, to educate students about the attorney's ethical responsibility to provide pro bono legal assistance, particularly to those who would not otherwise have access to the legal system; second, to foster in students a lifelong commitment to public service by providing the opportunity and training vital to the development of such a commitment; and third, to develop students' lawyering skills by providing them with work experience under the supervision of a judge, attorney, or otherwise qualified individual.

J.D. students must perform at least 50 hours of uncompensated public service legal work, during their second and third year of law school, in a pre-approved course or program, under the supervision of a judge, attorney, or otherwise qualified individual.

It is preferred that students fulfill this requirement by providing legal assistance to individuals who would otherwise be without access to such assistance. Students may also fulfill this requirement by participating in other law-related public service activities as described below.

For purposes of satisfying this requirement, public service legal work is defined as:

  1. Providing legal services to:
    1. persons of limited means; or
    2. charitable, religious, civil, community, governmental and educational organizations in matters which are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means; or
  1. Providing law-related public service by:
    1. helping groups or organizations seeking to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties, or public rights;
    2. helping charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, and educational organizations not able to afford legal representation;
    3. participating in activities providing information about justice, the law or the legal system to those who might not otherwise have such information; or
    4. engaging in activities to enhance the capacity of the law and legal institutions to do justice.

The public service requirement can be fulfilled in any of the following ways:

  1. By satisfactorily completing one of the following approved courses:
    1. Clinics
    2. Public service externships (B530, B535, B538, B539, or B560)
    3. Street Law (B514)

  2. By participating in one of the following UW Law-based public service programs:
    1. Rural Alaska Tax Program (T506)
    2. Moderate Means Program (E552)

  3. By participating in any one of the following student-led pro bono projects:
    1. Immigrant Families Advocacy Project
    2. Incarcerated Mothers Advocacy Project
    3. Street Youth Legal Advocates of Washington & Record Sealing Clinic
    4. CHRJ Asylum Application Assistance Project aka "App Help"
    5. Environmental Law Society Pro Bono Research Projects
    6. Day-Long Washington Vets Wills Clinic
  4. By participating in a community-based pro bono program.


If you fulfill your public service requirement by successfully completing a Clinic, Public Service Externship, or Street Law NO ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTATION IS REQUIRED.

If you fulfill your public service requirement through any method besides clinics, public service externships, or street law (e.g. activities 2-4 above), you will need to submit a Public Service Graduation Requirement Form to the Registrar’s Office before the last day of classes for your graduating quarter.

J.D. Experiential Coursework Requirement

Beginning with the Class of 2016, J.D. students must complete at least 9 credits of experiential course(s) in their 2L and 3L years. An experiential course may be a simulation course, a law clinic or an externship. A multi-quarter clinic may count towards the Experiential Requirement in one or two quarters and the Public Service Requirement in a third quarter. An externship in a For-Profit Small Firm (Law C530) may count towards the Experiential Requirement but it will not count towards the Public Service Requirement.

The following courses satisfy the requirement:

Other courses may be added to the list by the faculty at a future date.

J.D. Advanced Writing Requirement

In this video, Professor Feldman explains how to fulfill the Advanced Writing Requirement.

To receive a J.D. degree, a student must satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement (AWR). The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that each student develops skills in research, analysis, and writing by working on a writing project during the 2L or 3L year under faculty supervision. The project may take the form of a scholarly work such as a law review article. Alternatively, it may involve producing a practice-oriented document such as a brief, transactional document, or draft legislation. Whatever form it takes, the project must be substantial and demonstrate a high level of research, analysis, and writing. The project must also be completed under faculty supervision and involve at least one revision. Students must satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement by the end of the second-to-last quarter of enrollment before graduation. A faculty supervisor may also impose additional time constraints, as explained below. A student may satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement in one of two ways, so long as the completed work meets the above criteria:

A course that is used to meet the advanced writing requirement may not also meet the public service or experiential requirements

  1. By writing and revising a writing project (or set of projects) in any UW School of Law course (including a seminar or a clinic) that is open to second- or third-year law students and that carries at least 3 credits, provided that the course either requires completion of a substantial writing project or offers a substantial writing component as an option. To satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement in this way, the student must: (1) obtain permission, prior to the first day of the third week of classes, from the faculty member teaching the course; (2) meet with the faculty supervisor to discuss at least one draft of the project or set of projects; and (3) submit the revised project or set of projects to the faculty supervisor on or before the due date he or she specifies (Option 1 of the Advanced Writing Agreement Form).
  2. By revising a preexisting and substantial writing project that the student initially drafted after that student’s 1L year in any course (including a seminar or a clinic), externship, moot court competition, or while working on a journal. To satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement in this way, the student must: (1) obtain permission from a full-time faculty member willing to supervise revision of the preexisting writing project; (2) meet with the faculty to discuss at least one revised draft of the writing project; and (3) submit the final revised writing project to the faculty supervisor on or before the due date he or she specifies. For purposes of satisfying the Advanced Writing Requirement in this way, students must enroll in LAW E 500 (“Independent Writing Project”) for either one or two credits (Option 2 of the Advanced Writing Agreement Form).

Students should satisfy the Advanced Writing Requirement by the end of the second-to-last quarter of enrollment before graduation, unless they will satisfy it in a seminar or course that continues into the last quarter of enrollment.

Full-time faculty supervisors are required for LAW 600 Independent Study and LAW E 500 Independent Advanced Writing projects. Part-time faculty may supervise LAW E 500 Independent Advanced Writing projects only with the permission of an Associate Dean.

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