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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?

The Juris Doctor degree requires the successful completion of at least 87 academic credits, including all required courses, and a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.20. (Students who matriculated before 2013 are required to complete 86 academic credits.) In addition, students must complete at least six full-time semesters, fall or spring, in which they are enrolled in a minimum of at least 10 academic credits and pass at least nine of those. Students are prohibited from enrolling in more than 17 credits in any semester. All academic requirements for the Juris Doctor degree must be completed within five calendar years. 

The 87 semester hours necessary for graduation must include the successful completion of the following courses and requirements:

  • Sixty-four credits from courses that require attendance in regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction; BannerWeb designates such courses with the label LAWC. Most students will satisfy this requirement as a matter of course.
  • Six credits from experiential courses, which include clinics, clinical placements, and simulation courses; BannerWeb designates such courses with the labels LWXC, LWXP, and LWXS, respectively. Most students will also satisfy this requirement as a matter of course.
  • The courses listed as "Required First-Year Courses." See curriculum page.
  • The courses listed as "Required Upper-Level Courses." See curriculum page.
  • A "Lawyering Skills IV" course. See curriculum page.
  • The "Upper-Level Writing Requirement." See curriculum page.

Restrictions on Counting Credits

Please note that, in calculating the 87 required credits, students may not count more than four credits from Research Assistant positions; no more than three credits from Independent Study; and no more than 12 total credits from clinics (designated LWXC in Bannerweb) and clinical placements (designated LWXP in Bannerweb) combined (with the exception that for students who have done the D.C. Externship, the limit is 19, not 12).

How do I plan and publicize student events?
When planning an event, visit the Event Planning Page to do the following: Learn more in 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). Graduate applications are due by the second Friday in September 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 2019, 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 11, 2019 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 11, 2019. 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 in the Richmond Law Bar Information Handbook.

When do I need to start thinking about loan repayment?

Federal Loans

Learn more about loan repayment here.

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, 2020). 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.