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Madison Aerial View

University of Wisconsin Law School

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

Official Guide to ABA-Approved JD Programs


The University of Wisconsin Law School is located on historic Bascom Hill in the heart of the beautiful UW–Madison campus. It boasts a renowned faculty, an extensive curriculum and a dynamic student body. As part of an amazing university located in the state’s capital, the Law School also offers an unparalleled wealth of experiences beyond its walls.

An extensive curriculum places emphasis on the dynamics of the law—how the law relates to social change and to society as a whole—while at the same time stressing skill development. In addition to nationally recognized programs in several substantive areas, the Law School also has one of the largest clinical programs in the country. UW Law School offers many dual degree programs, concentrations and certificate programs.

With a focus on skills-based learning, our students graduate practice-ready and prepared for success. Most UW Law School students are pursuing a J.D. (Juris Doctor) degree, while many others are earning an LL.M. (Master of Laws) or the S.J.D. (Doctor of Juridical Science).

The UW Law School's nationally recognized faculty and staff work together to provide an outstanding learning environment for our students. Our faculty and staff come from a wide range of backgrounds and bring varying experiences, views and approaches to the Law School. They are inspired by the UW’s distinctive law-in-action approach, and they are committed to helping students develop into confident, successful lawyers.

Learn more about Wisconsin Law

The JD Program

At UW Law School, we want our students to design their education in a way that caters to their passions and fulfills their professional goals. 

Our students have many opportunities to experience our long-standing law-in-action tradition, which empowers them to navigate as successful lawyers in an increasingly complex, competitive and challenging world.

Incorporated throughout our extensive curriculum, this law-in-action philosophy places an emphasis on the dynamics of the law, meaning:

  • how the law both reflects and causes social change, and
  • how the law as it is practiced can differ from the law described in the statutes.
Learn more about the JD program at Wisconsin Law

Dual Degree Programs

The opportunities for graduate study beyond a law degree are particularly rich at the University of Wisconsin. The UW Law School offers dual degree opportunities in conjunction with master's and doctoral programs on the campus. The Law School has established programs with:

  • La Follette School of Public Affairs
  • Wisconsin School of Business
  • Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program
  • Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
  • Department of Philosophy
  • Department of Political Science
  • Department of Sociology and Rural Sociology
  • School of Library and Information Studies
  • Master of Public Health Program
  • Neuroscience and Public Policy Program

A strong tradition of research at the UW and an environment that encourages interdisciplinary work support the dual degree programs. In addition, the Law School offers certificate programs that provide an opportunity for concentrated study, but do not involve an additional degree. Certificates are available in two subject areas: Health Advocacy and Russian Area Studies.

A dual degree is not a joint degree or a double degree. A dual degree is two separate degrees, one of which is granted by a graduate or professional department, school or program and one of which is granted by the Law School. In most instances, completing the requirements for a master's degree and a J.D. will add about a year of study to the three years that it usually takes to complete law school and saves approximately one year of study compared to attaining both degrees separately. A combination of a J.D. and a Ph.D. will take considerably longer. The mechanism for reducing the time for each degree is the permission to "double count" some courses taken for the J.D. degree toward the master's or Ph.D. degree and vice versa.

In addition, the Law School is committed to helping students create individual programs that combine law and related fields of study. Students wanting to combine a J.D. with a master's not already approved in the Law School Rules (listed above) must receive permission for their programs from the Law School Petitions Committee. Students do not need permission from the Petitions Committee to pursue a J.D. with a Ph.D. not already approved in the Law School. Lastly, the Law School has adopted a general regulation to facilitate dual J.D./Ph.D. programs in fields where no established dual degree program currently exists. That rule allows the Law School to grant a semester of advanced standing to students in such programs if certain standards are met.

Clinical Programs

As one of the first law schools to initiate a clinical program, UW Law School is committed to practical experience as a part of legal education. The Frank J. Remington Center and the Economic Justice Institute were among the school's first clinical programs. Over the years, UW Law has strengthened and increased the number of clinical opportunities it provides. UW Law now hosts 18 in-house clinical opportunities for students.

Clinics provide students with hands-on lawyering experiences with real people—clients, victims, witnesses, family members, lawyers, and judges—enhancing student understanding of the roles and responsibilities of practicing attorneys.

Under the supervision of clinical professors or supervising attorneys, students interview clients, perform factual investigations, conduct legal research, prepare client letters, draft legal documents, and write briefs.

Externships

Our experiential learning and skills training programs include a large number of externship opportunities: field placements outside the Law School, where students receive academic credit, but not compensation, for their work.

Many of these externships are clinical course offerings, supervised by clinical or adjunct faculty members. Others are student-initiated externships in the legal departments of government or nonprofit agencies or in-house legal departments at corporations.

Popular externship opportunities include: 

  • Midwest Environmental Advocates
  • Public Health Madison Dane County
  • Disability Rights Wisconsin
  • UW Hospital & Clinics Office of General Counsel
  • WI Department of Revenue
  • Internal Revenue Service, Office of Chief Counsel, Milwaukee Office
  • Department of Homeland Security Office of the General Counsel
  • Center for Disease Control
  • US Department of Commercial, Office of the General Counsel
  • US Securities and Exchange Commission
  • US Department of Justice

Judicial Internship Program

The Judicial Intern Program gives students an opportunity to work with trial and appellate judges and view the judicial process from the perspective of the decision maker. Placements include the Wisconsin Supreme Court; Wisconsin Court of Appeals; Dane County Circuit Courts; and the United States District Court in both Milwaukee and Madison. Students are able to observe the court system from the inside; learn about the work of judges and their law clerks; and evaluate the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of lawyers appearing before the courts. The actual work performed may vary from judge to judge but the emphasis is on research and writing.

The Judicial Intern Program takes approximately 25 students during each semester of the academic year and during the summer. It is open to all students who have achieved second year status; thus students are eligible to participate in the summer following their first year. Second- and third-year students have priority and are generally placed.

Lawyering Skills Course

The Lawyering Skills Course is a unique opportunity for students to learn "real world" legal skills from practicing lawyers in a simulated legal environment.

Over the course of a semester, students get hands-on experience practicing a wide range of lawyering skills. Students also learn how lawyers manage their practices, address difficult ethical and professional problems, and balance their professional and personal lives.

Pro Bono Program

The Pro Bono Program provides students with opportunities to deliver law-related services to community members of limited financial means.

Students are assisted and supported by Pro Bono Program staff with placements in private and nonprofit law firms, legal aid groups, in-house programs and other organizations. Pro bono work is performed under appropriate supervision.

Students can engage in meaningful client service as early as the first semester of law school.

In keeping with the law school's law-in-action tradition, students develop legal and professional skills, gain practical, hands-on experience in real work environments and explore their ethical responsibility to provide pro bono service.

Student Journals

The University of Wisconsin Law School publishes three scholarly journals:

  • Wisconsin Law Review: The Wisconsin Law Review is a student-run journal of legal analysis and commentary that is used by professors, judges, practitioners, and others researching contemporary legal topics. It includes professional and student articles, with content spanning local, state, national, and international topics. In addition to publishing the journal, the Wisconsin Law Review sponsors an annual symposium at which leading scholars debate a significant issue in contemporary law. Students earn membership through a writing competition at the end of their first year.
  • The Wisconsin International Law Journal: Established in 1982, the Wisconsin International Law Journal is written by both professionals in the field and by law students. The journal offers articles of scholarly and practical interest in various areas of international law. Student members of the journal edit articles of interest in various areas of international law and draft articles for submission and possible publication. Each spring, the student members coordinate a conference on recent topics of interest in international law.
  • Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society: The Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society is a student-edited journal with a national scope. The Journal, which was established in 1985, publishes contributions from faculty, students, and practitioners on a wide-range of legal topics. Its focus is on scholarship that examines the intersection of law and gender with issues of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. The Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society is open to all students.

Mock Trial

Mock Trial team members at UW Law School enroll in a trial advocacy class in the fall, and participate in national competitions in the spring. For students interested in litigation, Mock Trial is an invaluable experience to develop skills that other courses cannot provide.

Each year, Mock Trial members either compete or participate as alternates in one of several competitions. Competitions encompass a variety of legal topics; however, expertise in specialized fields is not required. Recently, our team competed in several competitions across the country, including competitions in Buffalo, San Francisco, Chicago and Lincoln.

Moot Court

Moot Court is a mock appellate advocacy experience that helps law students develop the following skills to practice law:

  • Strong writing and oral advocacy skills
  • Intellectual flexibility
  • Ability to function well under pressure
  • Self-confidence necessary to be successful advocates

Moot Court gives law students an opportunity to focus on a single issue, prepare an in-depth written product and improve their writing. Similar to Law Review, employers recruit directly from our Moot Court Board.

Moot Court sends 16-17 teams to compete in competitions across the country in a variety of subjects. Competitors, also known as “mooters,” work on teams to write briefs and prepare oral arguments as if they were appearing before an appellate court.

Study Abroad

The UW Law School believes that learning about law and legal institutions from a foreign perspective helps not only the students who end up practicing law in the country where they study, but also the many students who enter areas of practice that demand knowledge of foreign and international law and legal institutions. More importantly, foreign study promotes a critical understanding our own legal system. The Law School's policy of encouraging foreign study coincides with large-scale University goals and initiatives.



Students at the University of Wisconsin Law School may earn up to 30 credits toward a University of Wisconsin Law School J.D. by studying law abroad. Students may:

  • participate in one of our international exchange programs;
  • attend other law school programs; or
  • create their own independent foreign study programs.

Student Life

Student Organizations

The range of extracurricular activities and student organizations within the University of Wisconsin Law School reflects the diverse and varying interests across the student body. UW Law students are active in many organizations, from professional groups to intramural sports and more. If there isn't an organization that suits your particular needs and interests, we encourage you to start one! 

Student Organizations at Wisconsin Law

  • Student Bar Association (SBA)

  • Advocates for Immigrants' Rights (AIR)

  • Advocate's Society

  • American Constitution Society (ACS)

  • American Inns of Court

  • Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)

  • Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Law Students Association (APIDALSA)

  • Black Law Students Association (BLSA)

  • Business & Tax Law Association (BATLAW)

  • Children's Justice Project (CJP)

  • Christian Legal Society (CLS)

  • Environmental Law Society (ELS)

  • First Generation Lawyers

  • Federalist Society

  • Health Law Student Association (HLSA)

  • Indigenous Law Students Association (ILSA)

  • Intellectual Property Students Organization (IPSO)

  • Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA)

  • JD Student Veterans Club (SVC)

  • La Alianza

  • Labor & Employment Student Association (LESA)

  • Law School Wellness Coalition

  • Law Students with Disabilities Coalition

  • Legal Assistance for Disaster Relief (LADR)

  • Maritime Law Society (MLS)

  • Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA)

  • National Lawyers Guild (NLG-UW)

  • Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF)

  • QLaw (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Law Students)

  • Run Club at Wisconsin Law

  • Socialist Law Students of Wisconsin (SocLaw)

  • Society for Education Law and Policy (SELP)

  • Sports & Entertainment Law Society (SELS)

  • State & Local Government Law Society (SLOG Law)

  • Teaching Assistants' Association (TAA)

  • Technology Law Student Association (TLSA)

  • Transportation Law Society (TLS)

  • Unemployment Compensation Appeals

  • Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL)

  • Wisconsin International Law Society (WILS)

  • Women's Law Student Association (WLSA)

Career Placement and Bar Passage

Office of Career and Professional Development

Leading law firms, government agencies, business, and public interest organizations hire UW Law School graduates. A broad range of employers participate in the on-campus interview program. The Law School also participates in off-campus job fairs each year in New York, Chicago, Texas, and Washington, D.C., and our students receive support, mentorship, and guidance from our alumni around the world. 

From your first semester of law school to graduation and beyond, the Office of Career and Professional Development provides expert resources to help you achieve your professional goals.

  • Receive individual career counseling, from self-assessments to salary negotiations
  • Learn effective resume and cover letter writing, interviewing techniques, and social media etiquette
  • Participate in on-campus and remote interview programs
  • Network with potential employers and learn from practicing attorneys

2021 Graduate Employment by Job Sector

  • Law Firm - 46%
  • Public Interest - 18%
  • Government - 16%
  • Business & Industry - 11%
  • Clerkships - 9%

Diploma Privilege

One of the great benefits of being a UW Law School student is Diploma Privilege. Diploma Privilege allows our graduates to secure a license to practice law in Wisconsin without taking a bar exam. Wisconsin is one of the only states in the country that offers diploma privilege.

If you intend to practice in Wisconsin when you graduate, or think you may return to Wisconsin in the future, there is a clear benefit to satisfying the Wisconsin Diploma Privilege.

Even if you're not planning to practice in Wisconsin, there are still reasons you should consider satisfying the diploma privilege:

  • It allows you to practice in most federal agencies (such as the IRS, FTC, SEC, etc.) without taking a bar exam.
  • You would be a licensed attorney while you are studying for the bar in another state, meaning you may be able to handle legal matters for your employer that graduates from other states cannot.
  • You will be licensed in more than one state, which is appealing to many employers.
Learn more about career placement and bar passage at Wisconsin Law

Tuition and Aid

Expense Cost
Tuition
$31,635.36
Fees
$1,523.04
Expected Cost of Attendance
$56,618.40

The University of Wisconsin Law School Admissions and Financial Aid Office awards scholarships based on a variety of criteria, such as merit, need, academic background, personal qualifications, or some combination depending on the individual scholarship.

Learn more about tuition & aid at Wisconsin Law

Admitted Applicant Profile

25-75% UGPA Range at Wisconsin:

3.49 to 3.90

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Wisconsin:

157 to 167

25-75% UGPA Range at Wisconsin:

3.49 to 3.90

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Wisconsin:

157 to 167

25-75% UGPA Range at Wisconsin:

3.49 to 3.90

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Wisconsin:

157 to 167