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Guide to the Third Year

The Guide to the Third Year has been designed to equip you with the information you need to successfully plan for and succeed in your 3L year of law school.

Guide to the Third Year

Check out some of the most frequently asked questions below.

What are the course requirements for graduation?

As you move into your third year, it is a good idea to confirm that you have met all your course requirements and are on track to graduate.

Graduation Requirements

  • 87 Credit Hours. You must have earned 87 credit hours to receive the JD degree. No more than 12 of these credits may be earned in clinical courses. No more than four credits may be earned as a research assistant.
  • All First Year Courses. You must have earned a passing grade in each of the courses required in the first year of law school (i.e. Civil Procedure, Contracts, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Property, Leg/Reg, Torts, Law Skills I and II).
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Law Skills III. Learn more.
  • Law Skills IV. This may be satisfied by any of the courses designated by the Registrar as satisfying Law Skills IV, including: Appellate Advocacy, Contract Drafting, Corporate Fraud & Litigation, Environmental Lawyering, and Pre-Trial Drafting. Learn more.
  • Upper Level Writing Requirement (ULWR). This may be satisfied in one of three ways:Final Grade Point Average of 2.20. At the completion of all other degree requirements, a student must have a minimum GPA of 2.20 in law school course work for the JD degree to be confirmed.
    • ULWR Seminars. Seminars that fulfill the ULWR provide an opportunity to work closely with a faculty member in a limited enrollment class, receive extensive feedback on their writing, and ultimately submit an extensive paper of scholarly quality. The requirement is described in detail in the online catalog online. Courses that satisfy the ULWR are designated as such in the course schedule and in the list of course descriptions.
    • Independent Research. Students may also fulfill the ULWR by undertaking a two-credit or three-credit Independent Research course. The course entails independent research under the supervision of a full-time faculty member, resulting in an extensive paper on a selected topic. The topic must be approved in writing by the instructor under whose supervision the research is conducted. There is a limit of three credit hours total permitted for Independent Research projects. Registration for Independent Research must be done through the Dean’s Office, with prior permission from both the supervising faculty member and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
    • Law Review article. A student may satisfy the ULWR by having an article (not merely a student Comment) published in a law journal of an ABA-accredited law school. For a published article to satisfy the ULWR, it must he reviewed and certified by a full-time faculty member as meeting the requirements for the ULWR.

Learn more: pages 4-5 of the Guide.

How do I plan and publicize student events?

When planning an event, visit the Event Planning Page to do the following:

  • Submit a Space Request (EMS) Form (to include details on time, location, number attendees, catering needs, room setup, and audio-visual needs).
  • Submit a Publicize an Event Form (to have your event included on the website and in the law school's weekly newsletters).

Learn more: page 30 of the Guide and pages 3-7 of the Student Organization Handbook.

What do I need to know about preparing for graduation?

Graduation Application

During your final year, the University will require that you submit an application to graduate (Graduate Degree Application). This coming year, the deadline is September 30, 2016 for both December and May graduates. Please contact Kristen Ball in the registrar’s office if you have any questions. Access the form online.

Regalia Distribution

In January 2017, you will order your regalia online. An email will go out with instructions during the fall semester. In April, the law school will host a Graduation Fair. Regalia will be distributed at that time. You will receive your doctoral hood just before you receive your diploma at the graduation ceremony.

Graduating In Absentia

Next year’s commencement ceremony is scheduled for May 6, 2017 at 2 p.m. If circumstances prevent your attendance, you must submit a request to graduate in absentia with the registrar’s office prior to the ceremony (registrar.richmond.edu).

Graduating with Honors

At the end of law school study, students who attain in the range of the following cumulative grade point averages are eligible to graduate with the designated honors: 3.80 to 4.00, summa cum laude; 3.60 to 3.79, magna cum laude; 3.40 to 3.59, cum laude.

Order of the Coif

Students who achieve a class rank in the top ten percent of the graduating class and who have completed at least 75 percent of coursework at the University of Richmond School of Law will be offered membership to the University of Richmond School of Law Order of the Coif. Certificates will be distributed after final grades have been submitted.

The Ceremony

The Law School holds one graduation ceremony each year in May. Next year’s ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, May 6, 2017. Both December and May graduates participate in this ceremony. Prior to the start of the event at 2 p.m., we ask that all graduating students arrive early for a class photo. There is no limit on the number of guests you can bring with you and no tickets are required. In the spring, you will receive several emails providing graduation information as well as a link to the Commencement website.

How should I plan for the bar exam?

Which bar exam should I take?

For most legal jobs, the attorney must be licensed in the state in which he/she is practicing law. Thus, if you have accepted a job requiring admission to the bar, you naturally will sit for the bar exam in the state in which you will be practicing. If you will be clerking for a judge or working for the federal government, you may not be required to take the bar exam in the state in which you are working initially. Please discuss this issue with your employer. 

If you have a job that does not require admission in a particular jurisdiction, or if you have not yet secured employment, you should think carefully about where you would like to take the bar. 

How should I prepare for the bar exam?

The law school offers a course during the spring semester that is designed to give you a head start reviewing the substantive material tested on the bar exam (e.g. Real Property, Contracts, Sales, etc.) and to strengthen your test-taking skills for multiple choice and essay questions. This course is open to all third-year students and is provided at no extra charge. You will receive more detailed information about the program in the late fall.

The law school also provides individual tutoring and counseling for all graduates preparing for the February or July bar exam, also at no extra charge.

The law school’s bar preparation programs are intended to supplement-not replace-a traditional, commercial bar review course, and nearly all law school graduates take such a course in preparation for the bar exam.

What are the bar admissions requirements?

Most jurisdictions require the Character and Fitness Investigation, the Bar Examination, and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam. The bar is administered in February and July.

Learn more: pages 19-24 of the Guide and the Richmond Law Bar Information Handbook.

When do I need to start thinking about loan repayment?

Federal Loans

Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans have an automatic six-month grace period before repayment begins. Students who borrow a Federal Direct Grad PLUS loan may request to delay repayment for six months. Federal Perkins Loans have a nine-month grace period. Private loans may have a six-to nine-month grace period, depending on the loan terms. The grace period begins based on the last day of at least half time enrollment. For most students, this will be the last day of the semester. 

Federal Direct Loans have a number of repayment plans which to meet different needs. Repayment plans may range from 10 to 25 years. The repayment plans are:

  • Standard Repayment: A 10-year repayment plan, where borrowers will make a fixed payment for up to 10 years. Monthly payments will vary based on loan debt but will be at least $50. 
  • Extended Repayment: For borrowers with at least $30,000 in outstanding Direct Loans, a repayment plan which offers fixed or graduated payments of up to 25 years. 
  • Graduated Repayment: A 10-year repayment plan, with payments starting at one level and increasing every two years.
  • Income Based Repayment (IBR): A repayment plan based on the following calculation: If your monthly payment under a standard 10 year repayment plan is more than 15% of your discretionary income (defined as the difference between your Adjusted Gross Income and 150% of the poverty level based on family size and location), then you pay only 15% of your discretionary income. Students must apply for the IBR plan and submit annual income information. Students may apply for IBR online at www.studentloans.gov. If a borrower is in this plan for 25 years and meets other requirements, the remaining loan balance may be cancelled. This debt cancellation has IRS tax implications. Additional information can be found online.
  • Pay As You Earn Repayment (PAYE): A repayment plan based on the following calculation: If your monthly payment under a standard 10-year repayment plan is more than 10% of your discretionary income (defined as the difference between your Adjusted Gross Income and 150% of the poverty level based on family size and location), then you pay only 10% of your discretionary income. In order to qualify for this plan, a student must have no federal student loan debt prior to October 1, 2007 and receive a new disbursement on or after October 1, 2011. Students must apply for the Pay As You Earn plan and submit annual income information. Students may apply for Pay As You Earn online at www.studentloans.gov. If a borrower is in this plan for 20 years and meets other requirements, the remaining loan balance may be cancelled. This debt cancellation has IRS tax implications. Additional information can be found online.
  • Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment (Re-PAYE): A repayment plan based on no more than 10% of your discretionary income. Discretionary income is defined as the difference between your Adjusted Gross Income and 150% of the poverty level based on family size and location. Then you pay only 10% of your discretionary income. Students must apply for the Re-PAYE plan and submit annual income information. Students may apply for Re-PAYE online at www.studentloans.gov. If a borrower with undergraduate loans only is in this plan for 20 years and meets other requirements, the remaining loan balance may be cancelled. If a borrower with graduate loans is in this plan for 25 years and meets other requirements, the remaining balance may also be canceled. This debt cancellation has IRS tax implications. Additional information can be found online
  • Income Contingent Repayment (ICR): A repayment plan that allows qualifying students to pay the lesser of (1) payments that would be made under a standard 12-year repayment plan or (2) 20% of your discretionary income (defined as the difference between your Adjusted Gross Income and the poverty level based on family size and location.) Students must apply for ICR and submit annual income information. If a borrower is in this plan for 25 years and meets other requirements, the remaining loan balance may be cancelled. This debt cancellation has IRS tax implications. Additional information can be found online

IBR, PAYE, Re-PAYE, and ICR are complicated plans with very specific requirements and qualifications. Students can access an online Repayment Estimator. Students with specific questions about repayment can contact David Curtis in the Financial Aid office at 804-289-8438 or at jcurtis2@richmond.edu.

Federal Perkins Loan

The University of Richmond is the lender for Federal Perkins Loans received while attending Richmond. Payments will begin nine months after a borrower is no longer enrolled at least half-time. Payments will be at least $40 a month; however, this amount may be larger, depending on the total amount borrowed. The fixed interest rate is 5%. There are various cancellation provisions associated with the Federal Perkins Loan. Additional information about these may be found online. Payments for a Federal Perkins loan will be made to Campus Partners, our servicer. Students may contact Campus Partners online, by calling 1-800-334-8609, or by writing: Campus Partners, PO Box 2901, Winston-Salem, NC 27102-2901. Federal Perkins Loans do not quality for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Borrowers may consolidate their Federal Perkins Loan into a Direct Consolidation Loan which would then be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. 

Private Loans 

Repayment for private loans will be based on the terms and conditions of the promissory note. Typically, payments are made on a monthly basis. Payments may be fixed or may vary, depending on if the interest rate is fixed or variable. Borrowers are encouraged to contact their private lender for additional details about repayment.

Learn more: pages 8-15 of the Guide.

What resources are available to me after graduation?

“4th” Year at Wellness Center

If you had free access to the Weinstein Center prior to graduation you are eligible for the 4th Year Experience: a FREE membership to the Weinstein Center for one whole year (until July 31, 2018). To sign-up, please complete the fourth-year membership application or stop by the Member Services desk at the Weinstein Center to sign-up for yet another benefit of being a University of Richmond graduate.

Networking & Alumni Events

The law school offers regular opportunities for alumni to network and socialize with each other:

  • Receptions and happy hours (in Richmond and throughout the country)
  • Gatherings during bar meetings and conferences
  • Reunion Weekend
  • Student-alumni events

Upcoming law alumni events are always available on the law school’s alumni website: law.richmond.edu/alumni and sent via regular mail and/or email. Be sure to keep your snail mail and email addresses updated so you don’t miss out on these great opportunities. Updates can be made online.

Online Alumni Directory, Social Media & Referrals

Law alumni have access to UROnline, the university’s alumni directory, at . This is also how you register to keep your @richmond.edu email address after you graduate. Use your exiting university credentials (or “single sign on”) to register and get started. Richmond Law also has a presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. All of these can be great resources if you’re looking for a fellow alum to whom you could refer a case when you do not have a local connection.

Career Development

The CDO and its resources, including one-on-one advising, will be available to you after graduation. Please allow the CDO to support your efforts as you secure your first post-graduate position and make subsequent career transitions.