The School of Law offers a program leading to a J.D. degree which grants alumni access to bar examinations nationwide. The program of study, which is also offered in Spanish, requires ninety two (92) credits for graduation.
The Juris Doctor courses address five (theory and practical) main general professional competencies through its curriculum sequence.
For instance: the ability to engage in effective legal research and communication (written and oral, Spanish and English) is the basis of a six-credit (three per semester) first year course entitled Legal Research, Analysis and Writing I & II. In this course, students are exposed to a methodology that emphasizes the correlation between the effective execution of lawyering and communication skills, and successful advocacy. They are required to do research, draft letters, legal memoranda, and appellate briefs, and present oral arguments.
Around 25 elective courses (in addition to seminars or workshops) are offered every semester such as: International Law, Corporate Law, Commercial Law, Tax Law, Banking Law, Notary Law, Criminology, Law and Social Change, Jurisprudence and Legal Theory, Feminist Theories of Law, Environmental Law, Labor Law and Social Legislation, Federal Jurisdiction, Immigration Law, Bankruptcy, Trademarks and Patents, Sociology of Law, Law and Literature, Comparative Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Law and Technologies, Intellectual Property and International Law (public and private).
The School of Law is open to suggestions from the student body regarding the electives that are offered each semester. The School considers student preferences when scheduling elective courses for the following semester.
The following table presents the Juris Doctor program course sequence for each semester as established in the current School of Law’s Catalog.
The Clinical Program
The School of Law established its first Clinical Education Program in 1965. In August 1981, the School of Law modified its clinical education component to offer students the opportunity to develop basic practical skills for the effective practice of the legal profession; students were offered an opportunity to enroll in courses and workshops, in order to develop pre-litigation and litigation skills throughout their three years of study.
The Clinic promotes the participation of different segments of the community through outreach activities. Currently the Clinical Program has ten modules or projects all of which are headed by well qualified and distinguished professors in charge of the: general civil litigation; family and child custody law; environmental projects; alternative dispute resolution; domestic violence and women rights; criminal litigation and felony; civil rights; civil; international human rights; and, juvenile law modules.
The main goals of the School’s Clinical Model are:
• to prepare professionals qualified to serve as competent lawyers;
• to teach trial advocacy to law students;
• to offer free legal services to an eligible low-income clientele;
• to develop a sense of social and professional responsibility among the students.
During the first semester of their third year, students are required to take a three-credit course, Theory Doctrine and Practice of Litigation (L306). It allows the students to develop basic litigation skills through the use of simulation. It puts emphasis on direct examination, cross-examination and oral advocacy. Through the use of videotape, the students are shown pre-taped examples on how to maximize trial skills. Special short exercises have been prepared to test their skills in the classroom.
At the end of the semester students are required to participate in a mock jury trial held at a judicial center. The students are required to participate in both direct and cross-examination of witnesses and to deliver final summations or oral arguments on specific issues before judges of the Court of First Instance of Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Judiciary has been supportive of the School's Clinical Program. The judges participate eagerly and with great enthusiasm in these exercises. Upon the completion of the mock trial, clinical professors and judges evaluate the work of each student.
First and second year students may enroll in Clinical Tutoring under the supervision of a clinical professor in an external law office, to work on a course of study prepared by the student and the professor.
The clinical program, as part of a non-traditional educational model, has developed specific criteria to gauge students' performance and skills development. These criteria and procedures include:
Self-assessment. Each student is asked to assess his/her performance through an exercise of individual introspection relating the student's clinical work.
Assessment by the Clinical Professor. The professor evaluates the work of each student during the semester. The process includes an individual weekly discussion regarding positive and negative areas identified by the student.
Group Critique. Students are also exposed to group evaluations through weekly sessions relating to the work performed. The professor meets with students to formulate critiques on specific performance and to discuss legal issues, skills and values. This is a basic assessment tool. These group meetings allow the discussion of case handling and litigation strategies. A weekly work plan is agreed upon. In the meetings, motions and arguments or direct examinations are practiced through simulation.
Master in Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution
This Master’s program is aimed to good standing certified lawyers with high professional profile defined by their academic performance, publications, professional awards, previous graduate studies, recommendation letters, a written essay and no criminal record.
The Master’s purpose are congruent with the School’s and the IAU Mission and goals leading to a more just and ethical society. Specifically, the students of the program will strengthen their research and litigation skills, and encourage the use of alternate dispute solutions as a tool for achieving social harmony and responsibility.