Drake Law School building photo

Drake University Law School

The information on this page was provided by the law school.

Official Guide to ABA-Approved JD Programs

Drake University Law School can trace its history back to 1865, making it one of the nation’s 25 oldest law schools. Accredited by the ABA, Drake Law School provides a personal education with a low (11:1) student-to-faculty ratio. Our commitment to an education that balances theory and practice has earned Drake Law School a reputation for training proven practitioners.

Drake Law School is the only law school in Iowa’s capital city. The close relationship between Drake Law School and the greater Des Moines area legal community provides students with the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of state government; the federal courts; federal and state administrative agencies; and a wide array of law firms and businesses.

The JD Program

At Drake Law School you not only gain a solid foundation in legal theory, but also go to work in hands-on, practical experiences.  All of our faculty have practiced law and bring their expertise into the classroom.  Students gain real-world experience through clinical programs, internships and clerkships.  

Drake's First-Year Trial Practicum, the only program of its kind in the country, adds an important experiential learning dimension to the first-year curriculum. During the spring semester, students observe an actual state court trial—from jury selection to verdict—in the courtroom of the Neal and Bea Smith Law Center. Breakout discussion groups and post-trial debriefings of the attorneys, judges, and jurors poignantly illustrate how law on the books becomes law in action.

Centers of Excellence and Certificate Programs

  • Agricultural Law Center: Our internationally recognized agricultural law program addresses the important issues in American and international law and policy regarding food production. Students conduct research, publish an agricultural law journal, and write articles on a wide range of topics. The center frequently hosts international agricultural law scholars who teach courses on international issues and topics such as farmland preservation, legal issues in biotechnology, and tax planning for agricultural businesses. The center also offers a series of one-week courses for students and attorneys in the Summer Agricultural Law Institute. The center offers a Food and Agricultural Law Certificate program, the first of its kind at an American law school.
  • Business Law Certificate Program: The Business Law Certificate Program is designed to guide and further the interests of students in a business or transactional practice and prepare them for careers in business law, including private practice, with state or federal agencies, or as inside counsel for private and public companies. The certificate provides formal recognition of the knowledge, experience, and skills achieved by students who complete coursework and activities related to business, commercial, and transactional practice.
  • The Compliance and Risk Management Certificate helps prepare students to enter one of the fastest growing legal fields. Coursework in this program includes The Law of Compliance, Introduction to Risk Management, Business Associations, Negotiations, and Administrative Law.
  • Constitutional Law Center: Drake is one of only four schools selected to receive a congressional endowment for the establishment of a Constitutional Law Resource Center. The center sponsors a lecture series and annual symposia featuring nationally recognized constitutional scholars. The nationally renowned Dwight D. Opperman Lecture in Constitutional Law has been delivered by 11 current and former justices of the United States Supreme Court. The center also offers a Constitutional Law and Civil Rights Certificate program.
  • The Criminal Law Program offers students the opportunity to earn a Prosecution and Defense Certificate. This program is designed to prepare students for careers in criminal prosecution or defense through extensive criminal law course offerings—beginning in the first year—and experiential training, including internship and clinical experiences.
  • Center for Legislative Practice: Drake is one of only a few schools in the country that offers a Legislative Practice Certificate. Classroom study and a wide range of internships expose students to the underpinnings of legislative and rule-making processes. Students who complete the program are uniquely prepared to work for administrative or government agencies, research and draft legislation, represent businesses and organizations with government interests, or work in a variety of other public policy-making positions. Drake’s close proximity to the Iowa State Capitol and other state and federal offices, trade associations, union headquarters, and public interest group agencies provides students with numerous opportunities to learn firsthand how these institutions operate.
  • The Middleton Center for Children’s Rights pursues a broad agenda, advancing children’s rights through the legal process, training, public information, and public policy formation. Drake Law students learn the interdisciplinary process essential to addressing the complex issues involved in child welfare and children’s rights.
  • The Institute for Justice Reform and Innovation serves as a center for research and training on topics including implicit bias, sentencing reform, and improving trial procedures. 
  • The International Law and Global Citizenship Certificate program combines coursework in Drake’s international and comparative law and related course offerings with a required study-abroad experience.
  • Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution Certificate: Drake Law School has achieved a well-deserved reputation for its education and training of future litigators, mediators, negotiators, and judges. Our alumni are well represented among the nation’s leading trial and appellate lawyers and on both the federal and state courts. The Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution Certificate program capitalizes on the school’s traditional strengths in advocacy and dispute resolution.
Learn more about the JD program at Drake Law School

First-Year Trial Practicum

The only program of its kind in the country, the Trial Practicum adds an important experiential learning dimension to the first-year curriculum. During the spring semester, students observe an actual state court trial—from jury selection to verdict—in the courtroom of the Neal and Bea Smith Law Center. Breakout discussion groups and post-trial debriefings of the attorneys, judges, and jurors poignantly illustrate how law on the books becomes law in action.

Drake Legal Clinic

Drake’s clinical programs allow students to build professional experience by applying classroom knowledge to real-world situations in a state-of-the-art training facility. Students are offered opportunities to work with clients through the Children’s Rights, Criminal Defense, Entrepreneurial/Transactional, General Civil Practice, Refugee, and Wrongful Convictions clinics.

Accelerated Program/Summer Start

Students may begin their studies in Drake’s Summer Program beginning in early June. Students who complete the six-credit summer program may later reduce their course load or elect to take additional summer courses and accelerate graduation by one semester.

Joint Degree Programs

Students may combine their Juris Doctor degree with the Master of Business Administration, Master of Public Administration, or Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Drake University. Students may also combine the JD degree with a Master of Arts in Political Science or Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (in cooperation with Iowa State University); a Master of Social Work (in cooperation with the University of Iowa); a Master of Health Care Administration; or a Master of Public Health (in cooperation with Des Moines University).

3+3 Programs

Qualified students can earn an undergraduate degree and a law degree in six years. Through this program, students complete three years of full-time undergraduate study, use law school courses to meet the balance of required undergraduate credits, and receive their bachelor’s degree after the first year of law school. Interested students should contact the Office of Admission to further discuss this option.


As the only law school in the capital city of Des Moines, Drake Law students have a competitive advantage in obtaining internships.  

Summer in France

Add an international element to your legal education by participating in our summer program at the University of Nantes Law School in France. Classes in comparative and international law and on-site visits to European legal institutions allow you to absorb and experience another country’s legal system and be better prepared to practice law in a global society.

Student Life

Student Activities

Drake Law students participate in many student organizations and cocurricular activities. Drake students publish two journals, the Drake Law Review and the Journal of Agricultural LawDrake Law Review is among the country’s most court-cited legal periodicals.  The award-winning Student Bar Association and honorary societies provide students with leadership, public service, and learning opportunities. Drake students also participate in approximately 20 organizations around their special interests such as Drake Law Women, Black Law Students Association, Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, Hispanic Latino Law Student Association, LGBT Student Association, International Law Society, Christian Legal Society, Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, Federalist Society, American Constitution Society, Intellectual Property Law Society, Agricultural and Environmental Law Society, Alternative Dispute Resolution Society, and Public Interest Law Association.

Competition Teams

Drake Law School offers numerous moot court and mock trial teams, in addition to hosting intra-school competitions, for students to gain hands-on experience and hone their trial and advocacy skills.  Drake moot court teams consistently win regional competitions and finish strongly in national competitions.

Des Moines

As the only law school in Iowa's capital city, Drake Law students have a competitive advantage obtaining clerkships, internships, and professional employment.  Drake's campus is 10 minutes from the state capitol, state and federal courts, and a dynamic business district that houses national headquarters for insurance, banking, and publishing firms—many of which are led by Drake alumni.

Career Placement and Bar Passage

Drake Law School graduates consistently pass the bar and gain employment at rates above the national average.   The Career Development Office offers career planning and counseling services, assistance with résumé and cover letter preparation, salary and geographical employment statistics, nationwide job postings, and state bar examination information. The office also arranges interviews—both on and off campus—and exchanges job listings with over 100 other law schools around the country. Furthermore, the office has a comprehensive, national alumni network set up to assist students with their career plans no matter where they want to go.

Learn more about career placement and bar passage at Drake Law School

Tuition and Aid

Expense Cost

Drake Law School offers a variety of scholarship opportunities.   Merit scholarships will be determined based on the information contained in the application for admission.  Qualified students are also encouraged to submit a diversity statement for consideration of our Opportunity Scholarships.   

Application materials are required for consideration of our full-tuition Public Service scholarships.  Further details are available on our website.  

Learn more about tuition & aid at Drake Law School

Admission Decisions: Beyond the Numbers

All of the information submitted with the application will be carefully considered by the Admissions Committee as such it may be several weeks before an admissions decision is rendered. Beyond an applicant's LSAT score and undergraduate academic record, Drake Law School carefully considers an applicant's writing skills, letters of recommendation (academic letters preferred), leadership experience, community and extracurricular involvement and work and life experiences. Applicants are welcome to attach a resume and/or addendum to include any such relevant information.

Learn more about admission at Drake Law School

Admitted Applicant Profile

25-75% UGPA Range at Drake:

3.29 to 3.77

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Drake:

151 to 157

25-75% UGPA Range at Drake:

3.29 to 3.77

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Drake:

151 to 157

25-75% UGPA Range at Drake:

3.29 to 3.77

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Drake:

151 to 157

Contact Information

2507 University Avenue,
Des Moines, IA 50311-4505,
United States