Cleveland State University College of Law
The information on this page was provided by the law school.
Official Guide to ABA-Approved JD Programs
The JD Program
AN ICONIC LAW SCHOOL WITH HISTORIC ROOTS
Since 1897, Cleveland State University College of Law has been a school of opportunity, educating outstanding lawyers and preparing civic and community leaders. We are a law school that day-in-and-day-out epitomizes our mission: Learn Law. Live Justice. We are Your Law School for Life. Whatever your career goals, we truly prepare our students to make a difference in the world and to become not only successful professionals, but also leaders, change makers and champions of justice. As the first law school in Ohio to admit women and one of the first to admit students of color, our graduates practice with distinction around the world - in law firms, the judiciary, public service and in business.
We invite you to explore the deep social impact our law school has made - and continues to make - as demonstrated through the stories of our distinguished Hall of Fame honorees. These extraordinary leaders inspire us and continue to be directly involved in the success of the law school and our students.
The incredible energy and curricular innovation here, opportunities for our graduates, deep commitment to student success and expansive network of distinguished and engaged alumni are just a few of the stand-out attributes of CSU|LAW.
LIVE JUSTICE: FROM CLASSROOM TO PRACTICE
CSU|LAW was a pioneer in experiential hands-on training. Every graduate will enter the field of law with hands-on lawyering experience by participating in an Externship, strong clinical program and by working for real reform on behalf of clients in our leading Academic Centers and innovative Pop Up Practicums, often electing to take part in more than one opportunity. Through these experiences, our students are connected to the legal community, doing real legal work for members of our community.
The Cleveland State University College of Law Juris Doctor is a rigorous program designed to prepare new lawyers with superior critical and analytical thinking and writing skills, positioned for success in an ever-changing legal market. CSU|LAW’s graduates have maintained a reputation for being among the most practice-ready graduates entering the legal profession. Today, a comprehensive approach that includes a curriculum that demonstrates rigorous academic preparation, extensive experiential learning requirements and a holistic focus on professionalism, ensures that the CSU|LAW J.D. graduate will continue to be among the most outstanding new lawyers entering the field.
The curriculum at CSU College of Law provides students a breadth and depth of legal study that supports students in whatever career path they choose. CSU|LAW also boasts four outstanding academic centers that provide deep curricular strength as well as access to thought leaders, academic conferences and student co-curricular opportunities:
- Criminal Justice Center
- Global Space Law Center
- Center for Cybersecurity & Privacy Protection
- Center for Health Law & Policy
LAW SCHOOL IN A PREMIER LEGAL MARKET
CSU|LAW is located on the campus of Cleveland State University in downtown Cleveland, just steps away from federal, state and county courthouses, government offices, law firms - including the headquarters of some of the world's largest firms, and corporate employers that together make up the City's thriving legal network. As early as the late 20th century, Cleveland had become one of the nation's most significant legal communities. Its continued prominence in the law affords CSU|LAW students unparalleled access to legal employers for externships, summer and in-school employment and post-graduation opportunities.
Although not required, students may, if interested, elect to undertake an intensive course of study through an academic concentration in one of five areas of legal practice:
- Business Law
- Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution
- Criminal Law
- Cybersecurity and Data Privacy
- Employment and Labor Law
- International and Comparative Law
Participation in a concentrated course of study enables future attorneys to develop their practice skills and to enter their new profession with greater command of their material and greater insight in a lawyer’s responsibilities. Any of the Concentrations may be completed in the course of meeting the J.D. degree requirements.
Students also have the option of pursuing a certificate program:
- Health Care Law Certificate
- Health Care Compliance Certificate
- Intellectual Property Certificate
- Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Certificate
⇒ Full-Time and Part-Time Program Options
C|M|LAW offers three program options: full-time day (in-person), part-time day (in-person) and part-time online evening. The admissions selection process and standards are the same for all applicants; an applicant’s selection of program option will not affect the admission decision.
The part-time program at CSU|LAW is formatted so that students complete their foundational 1L courses over their first four semesters.
Part-time evening students benefit from the same incredible in-person classroom dynamics and closeness developed with section classmates experienced by full-time and part-time day students, while also enjoying the flexibility and more relaxed scheduling offered by reducing the number of evenings spent commuting to campus.
Our part-time program is designed to ensure that students get the same excellent education and supportive experience offered to full-time students.
Starting in the fall 2023, the part-time evening JD program will be offered as an online program, which means the following:
- All classes in the evening part-time JD program will be taught remotely in the first year. In-person classes will not be included in the regular weekly schedule.
- After the first year, students will continue to have some remote classes and can choose to take some courses in person or continue to take all courses remotely. Students can complete the entire degree through remote coursework.
- In addition to remote coursework, students in the part-time evening JD program will attend six in-person experiences over the course of their enrollment at CSU|LAW. These experiences, held over long weekends, will be fantastic opportunities for students to meet their fellow classmates and faculty, network with leading judges and attorneys, and develop critical lawyering skills.
Students enrolled in our part-time evening JD program will have access to all of the services and opportunities available to all students.
⇒ 3+3 Bachelor's/Law Accelerated Degree Program
CSU College of Law partners with several select colleges and universities to offer students the opportunity to earn their law degree more quickly through an officially-sanctioned joint 3+3 Bachelor’s/Law Accelerated Degree Program. By enrolling in a 3+3 program, students will have the opportunity to complete both bachelor’s and law degrees in just six years instead of the traditional seven years necessary to complete four years of undergraduate studies and three years of law school. The senior year of a student’s undergraduate studies will coincide with their first year at CSU College of Law, allowing participants to earn their undergraduate degree after their first year of law school studies. Our partner 3+3 schools are listed on our website.
⇒ Dual Degree Program
CSU|LAW offers dual degree program options, which means that students can obtain a J.D. and a graduate degree from Cleveland State University, reducing the length of time normally required if obtaining those degrees separately.
Applicants must apply separately to - and be admitted by - both the law school and the school that will grant the second degree. Dual degree options include:
- JD/Master of Business Administration;
- JD/Master of Public Administration;
- JD/Master of Urban Planning and Development;
- JD/Master of Arts in Environmental Studies;
- JD/Master of Science in Environmental Science; and
- JD/Master of Science in Environmental Engineering.
CSU|LAW’s clinic programs engage students in actual legal practice, putting what they learn in the classroom to work in the service of real clients with real legal problems. Under the close supervision of experienced attorneys, students serve the community and learn lawyering skills by practicing law. Students have made countless lives better while learning practical lawyering skills and tactics, professionalism and ethics. Whether or not a student intends to practice public interest law, the clinics allow them to participate in a case from intake to resolution with full mentoring by clinic professors. Third- and fourth-year students may be able to represent clients in court under the supervision of a clinical law professor.
In addition to the clinics, CSU|LAW gives students the opportunity to complete Pop-Up Practicums, short-term practical legal work in an area important to them. Sometimes faculty initiate these practicums in areas of their research, but students can also propose practicums in other areas.
⇒ APPELLATE PRACTICE CLINIC
The Appellate Practice Clinic engages students in representing underprivileged communities - such as persons afflicted with homelessness, immigrants, LGBTQ members, and others - before state and federal appeals courts. Students learn how to perfect an appeal, author a brief, and present oral argument. The Appellate Clinic represents clients primarily before Ohio's Eighth District Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.
⇒ CIVIL LITIGATION CLINIC
Students represent clients in a wide range of cases before courts and administrative agencies in many substantive areas, including:
- Civil Rights including First Amendment and Equal Protection Cases
- Employment and Employment Discrimination
- Wage and hour disputes
- Unemployment compensation
- Fair housing and landlord tenant
- Consumer concerns
- Breach of contract
- Civil Stalking Protection Orders
- Ex-Offender Reentry
⇒ COMMUNITY ADVOCACY CLINIC
Students assist our community’s most vulnerable populations in the following areas of law:
- Public benefits
- Name change
- Child support
- Consumer advocacy
- Community development
- LBGTQ advocacy
- Human trafficking
⇒ PARDON, CLEMENCY AND EXPUNGEMENT CLINIC
Students in the Pardon, Clemency and Expungement Clinic, under the Supervision of the Director, will represent individual clients seeking pardon or clemency from the Ohio governor, represent individuals seeking expungement of prior convictions, and/or assist in petitions for other post-conviction relief. They will engage in each phase of representation, from client interviews, to determining case strategies, to drafting motions, petitions, and applications before various municipal and county venues.
⇒ PRETRIAL JUSTICE CLINIC
The Pretrial Justice Clinic provides students with the opportunity to fill a critical need in the criminal justice system – advocating for indigent defendants during the initial bail process. Poverty presents many challenges in the criminal justice system, and a money-based bail system increases those challenges on the first day anyone appears in court. Students in the Clinic working with the Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s Office provide critical courtroom advocacy for indigent defendants as their cases work their way from Municipal Court to the Court of Common Pleas. Client interviews, risk assessment analysis, strategy development, and memoranda and brief writing are the main lawyering skills developed in the Clinic.
⇒ TRANSACTIONAL LAW CLINIC
Students work on the same types of problems as business attorneys, helping to provide advice and services in:
- Corporate governance
- Environmental law
- Real estate
- Corporate policies
- Compliance with federal and state laws
- Entity selection and formation
- Estate planning and probate
- Intellectual property
- Minimizing risk through advise on institutional policies and practices
- Contract drafting
- Intellectual property advice and filings
Recent student practicum experiences include:
- The federal and state permitting process for the Icebreaker Wind Project—North America’s first freshwater offshore wind project,
- Working with Dean Lee Fisher in his capacity as a member of the Cleveland Police Commission, authorized under the Federal Consent Decree between the City of Cleveland and the U.S. Department of Justice.
- Assisting Prof. Jonathan Witmer-Rich in the Revision of the Ohio Criminal Rules, and the Cuyahoga County Bail Task Force.
PRO BONO PROGRAM
CSU|LAW students as a collective typically clock 11,000 volunteer hours throughout the city each year in a variety of community service projects, some of which include assisting with drivers license reinstatement, child support issues, Legal Aid Free Advice Clinics, the IRS-Certified Volunteer Tax Preparer Project, working with homeless shelters, and more.
CSU College of Law's externship program offers externship placements with judicial, governmental, corporate counsel, and other agencies and organizations that serve the public interest.
Judicial externships are available at all levels of the judicial system. Judicial externs are integrated into the work of the chambers: writing bench memos, drafting opinions, researching issues during trials, observing settlement conference and mediations. Students also have the opportunity to observe proceedings in the courthouse, which may include trials, sentencing hearings or oral arguments.
Students interested in pursuing a judicial externship should familiarize themselves with the Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees, which extends to interns, externs, and other volunteers of the court, as explained in a March 2014 Advisory Opinion by the Committee on Codes of Conduct.
The following judges typically accept externs from Cleveland- State University College of Law:
- Supreme Court of Ohio (note that their application cycle is typically earlier than the published CSU|LAW application cycles; be in contact with Student and Career Services if you are interested in pursuing an externship at the Supreme Court; generally can be completed at least partially remotely)
- Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
- Justice Michael P. Donnelly
- Justice Melody Stewart
- Ohio Court of Appeals, 8th District
- Judge Eileen T. Gallagher
- Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
- Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams
- Judge Ashley Kilbane
- Judge Diane Palos
- Judge John Russo
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio
- Judge Philip Calabrese
- Judge Donald Nugent
- Judge Solomon Oliver
- Judge Dan A. Polster (externs must work a minimum of three full days per week)
⇒ Government, Public Interest & Corporate Counsel
These externships provide opportunities in numerous subject areas, including civil, criminal, education, health, immigration, labor/employment, and tax. These externships allow a student to have the opportunity to delve into substantive areas of law, investigate claims, research and write motions or briefs, draft contracts, and participate in hearings, trials, settlement conferences and/or negotiations.
The following sites typically accept applications each term for students from CSU College of Law, though specific opportunities can vary by semester:
- Auto Services Unlimited
- Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland (Immigration Unit)
- City of Cleveland Law Department
- City of Lorain, Law Department
- Cleveland Metroparks
- Cleveland State University, Office of General Counsel
- Cuyahoga Community College, Office of Legal Counsel
- Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Probate Division
- Cuyahoga County Law Department
- Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office
- Cuyahoga County Public Defender's Office
- Eaton Corporation (Fall )
- Eliza Jennings Senior Care Network
- Equality Ohio
- Federal Public Defender, Northern District of Ohio
- Federal Trade Commission
- Hillcrest Food Service
- Internal Revenue Service, Office of Chief Counsel
- John Carroll University, Office of Legal Affairs
- Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
- Lorain County Prosecutor's Office
- Medical Mutual of Ohio - General Counsel
- Medical Mutual of Ohio - Cyber/Privacy
- Mid-American Conference
- The Millennia Companies
- NASA Glenn Research Center, Office of Legal Counsel
- Nueva Luz Urban Resource Center
- Office of Ohio Attorney General
- Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission
- Parker-Hannifin Corporation
- ReCreation Sports and Entertainment
- Scranton Road Legal Clinic
- Slavic Village Development Corporation
- U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio (typically has application cycles that are earlier than the C|M|LAW cycles; be in touch with Student and Career Services if this site is of interest to you)
- U.S. Coast Guard
- U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor
- University Hospitals Health System, Ethics & Compliance Department
Students may also pursue opportunities outside of the pre-arranged externship placements. Once a student secures an offer from a qualifying organization, he/she must submit an application to receive academic credit for the placement through the College of Law's Independent Externship program. For complete information, please review carefully the College of Law's Independent Externship Policy.
Cleveland State Law Review
The Cleveland State Law Review is a journal with a proud tradition. Four times each year, the Law Review publishes articles of both local and national significance. Students may be invited to join the Law Review as an Associate member at the end of their first year by either class ranking in the top ten percent or by successfully competing in a writing contest during the summer following their first year. Students in the evening division may choose to wait until the summer following their second year to enter the writing competition.
During the first year of Law Review participation, Associate members take part in the editorial work of the Law Review and produce a comprehensive Note on a topic of their choice. A select number of Notes are published in the Law Review the following year. Successful completion of the Note may also satisfy the upper level writing requirement.
Global Business Law Review
The Global Business Law Review provides an innovative platform for scholars and practitioners to explore novel and transformational issues in the field of international business law. At the end of their first year, students may be invited to join the GBLR by either ranking in the top fifteen percent of their class or by successfully competing in the annual Summer Writing Competition.
The GBLR publishes volumes in the Fall and the Spring, and each year, the GBLR sponsors a Symposium that addresses the most significant legal issues in international business.
Journal of Law and Health
The Journal is a law review devoted to publishing timely and informative articles in the area of health and the law. Two issues of the Journal are published each year. Students are not eligible to become members of the Journal until they complete their first year. Students ranking in the top twenty percent of their class in terms of grade point averages are automatically extended invitations to join the Journal as Associate Members. Students not scoring in the top twenty percent are invited to join the staff upon successfully competing in the annual Summer Writing Competition.
Students who satisfactorily complete their Associate year attain the rank of Editor, assuming supervisory duties over the Associates and becoming more involved in both the editorial and policy-making functions.
Trial Advocacy Team
Trial Advocacy is designed to enhance students’ understanding of the trial process by achieving the following goals.
- Teaching students the techniques, functions, and limits of the basic skills of the advocate;
- Allowing students to become comfortable operating under pressure;
- Encouraging students to develop their own persona consistent with individual skills, personality, and communications approaches;
- Teaching students the importance of a thematic approach to trial advocacy;
- Helping students understand how to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a case and to create a strategy for trial;
- Allowing students to understand the relationship between evidence, substantive and procedural doctrine, and how these come together at trial.
Our trial advocacy courses teach students the trial process by demonstration and hands-on practice. We offer semester long Trial Advocacy courses and an intensive two-week Trial Advocacy course both of which are taught by a teams of professors and adjuncts who are among Cleveland’s finest trial attorneys. Working in small groups with faculty, students learn the skills, art, and strategies of trial advocacy by performing simulations of jury selection, opening statements and closing arguments, direct and cross-examination, including of expert witnesses, and preparing and using exhibits at trial. At the conclusion of each course small teams of students will conduct full day trials. The two-week course is capped by a simulated trial in a Justice Center courtroom in front of an actual judge.
In our Trial Advocacy Competition course selected students participate in two trial competitions, one a cross-town competition with teams from Ohio and surrounding states, and the other, the National Trial Advocacy Competition sponsored by the American Association of Justice. Students try-out in the fall to become part of the team of class members who will work together the entire year preparing for and participating in mock trials.
Though the CSU trial team has been in existence for just under ten years, it has already established itself as one of the best teams in the region. CSU's trial team has advanced to the ATLA (now the American Association for Justice) regional final rounds in each of the last five years. The team has also won or tied for first place in the "cross-town rivalry" four of the last five years. The cross-town rivalry is a fall competition held in Cleveland that has grown from a two team tournament to a competition of over a dozen trial teams from Ohio and surrounding states.
The CSU trial team provides opportunities for second and third year law students to develop and hone their trial advocacy skills. Students take on the roles of attorneys and witnesses and have a unique opportunity to display their advocacy skills before distinguished members of the legal community.
The Cleveland State University College of Law Moot Court program is an organization designed to provide students the opportunity to develop, refine, and showcase brief-writing and appellate advocacy skills. All students are eligible to compete for a position on the team at the end of their first year by participating in a closed universe writing exam and a separate eight minute oral argument. The program directors review and grade the writing samples, while current Moot Court team members judge and score oral arguments. Second year students may also compete for a spot on the team. Once a member of the team, students compete in interscholastic competitions against other teams from across the nation. The award-winning CSU|LAW Moot Court team provides students the unique opportunity to obtain and develop real-world advocacy skills, both written and oral, while still in law school. Team members benefit from the advice and guidance of experienced alumni, faculty, and practitioners.
Student organizations play an extremely important role at CSU|LAW, offering students the opportunity to engage with fellow students and leaders in the legal community and to impact the law school community. Whether a social, affinity or a pre-professional group, our wide array of deeply-engaged student organizations are a great way for students to serve the law school and the Cleveland community, grow personally and professionally, develop leadership skills and network with attorneys and other persons who provide legal services.
Cleveland and the Campus District
Cleveland is a diverse, ethnically rich city with some wonderful neighborhoods perfect for your new lifestyle. We know you will find the perfect place!
We offer a virtual session each summer for new students with tips and insights from current law students about housing, neighborhoods, the foodie scene and resources.
To explore information about Cleveland, click on the link below.
Career Placement and Bar Passage
The Office of Student and Career Services partners with first-year students right from the beginning of law school to help identify their career goals and create a plan for how to achieve them. By taking a holistic approach to career services, our fantastic staff gets to know each student individually and are a source of support for them throughout their law school career. No matter what type of law you are interested in - or if you're not yet sure what career path is right for you - the Office of Student and Career Services is a strong resource to helping our students find their path to success.
For employment data, please visit our website.
Admission Decisions: Beyond the Numbers
While admission to CSU|LAW is competitive, it need not be intimidating. The admission committee reviews all applications with care and sensitivity, taking into consideration academic performance, LSAT or GRE scores, work and life experience, and readiness for the rigors of legal education. At CSU College of Law, we are committed to enrolling academically talented and diverse students. In doing so, we recognize and embrace that academic talent and diversity can be identified in many interesting and exciting ways.
The College of Law promotes equal educational opportunity for persons of every race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, age, handicap or disability, sexual orientation, and veteran status.
Applicants demonstrating academic excellence and writing proficiency may be admitted through CSU|LAW's Legal Career Opportunities Program (LCOP), a groundbreaking program launched in 1972 that admits students whose applications, when viewed in their entirety, have demonstrated strong academic ability, perseverance, and promise for success, but whose standardized LSAT score does not reflect their greater potential.
The Timing of the Admissions Process
Although our application deadline is July 1, applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as reasonably possible, as there may be fewer spots still available in the class and possibly reduced scholarship resources towards the end of the admissions process. Please note that we have two Early Decision cycles, with application deadlines on November 15 and January 1. You can read more about the Early Decision process on our website.
Admitted Applicant Profile
25-75% UGPA Range at Cleveland State:
3.06 to 3.71
25-75% LSAT Score Range at Cleveland State:
151 to 157
25-75% UGPA Range at Cleveland State:
3.06 to 3.71
25-75% LSAT Score Range at Cleveland State:
151 to 157
25-75% UGPA Range at Cleveland State:
3.06 to 3.71
25-75% LSAT Score Range at Cleveland State:
151 to 157