Frequently Asked Questions

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions by both prospective and current law students. If you have a question you would like answered, please feel free to contact us.


How many electives do I get to take my 1L and 2L year? 

During the 1L Spring Semester first year students may enroll in one designated elective.  The number of electives available to you during the 2L year depends on whether you choose to enroll in Federal Income Tax your 2L or 3L year.   It also depends on the total credits you choose to take and whether your electives are 2 credit or 3 credit electives.  Typically 15 credits per semester is a full load.  Second semester 10 of the 15 credits are required and most students choose 2 electives during the 2L spring semester.  A handy chart outlining the Required Curriculum can be found on page 27 of the 2014-2015 Student Handbook.

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What is an AWR?

AWR is the acronym for Advanced Writing Requirement.  Each student must complete a paper meeting the AWR requirements.  The paper can be completed for any class designated as an AWR course or can be completed as part of an independent student.  Details on the AWR can be found beginning on page 32 of the 2014-2015 Student Handbook.

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How many credits do I need to graduate?

To receive a J.D. students must complete 90 credits or essentially 15 credits per semester.  Graduation requirements are outlined beginning on page 56 of the 2014-2015 Student Handbook.  While you are there check out the requirements for faculty approval of candidates for graduation

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How do I qualify for an Indian Law Certificate?

Information coming soon. Our staff is working to answer this question for you.

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How do I qualify for an Environmental Law Certificate?

Information coming soon. Our staff is working to answer this question for you.

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When do I sign up for classes?

The Law School Registrar provides registration fall registration information to 1L students in early August prior to arrival.  A course schedule and registration dates are emailed to students mid-semester with information about the following semester.

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I am interested in an area of law that UMSL doesn't offer classes for, what do I do?

If you do not find a class you are interested in taking, consider applying to take an Independent Study in the area.  It is also possible to take summer courses at another ABA accredited law school program that offers those courses. 

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I really want to take a certain class but am concerned it won’t be offered when I can take it - how often are elective classes offered?

We constantly review our many elective offerings to ensure that they are timely and of interest to our students.  Courses are typically designated as “every” year, “alternate” year or “every third semester” electives.   Elective offerings, however, may change and may not be offered if there is insufficient student enrollment. 

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How do I set up an independent study or take a non-law class?

To take an independent study or a non-law class, you must apply to the Curriculum Committee.  Application must be made by the later of October 15 or one week following distribution of the semester course schedule.  For independent study specifics, see page 39, and for non-law course specifics, see page 14 of the 2014-2015 Student Handbook.  Application forms will also be made available on the Law Student Moodle page.  Turn applications into Student Services.

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How do my credits transfer if I transfer into UMSL? 

Transfer students meet with the Director of Admissions to complete a “transfer credit evaluation form.”  The 2014-2015 Student Handbook spells out how credits transfer over to the students UMSL for purposes of grade point average at page 45. 

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Who do I talk to about studying abroad? Studying abroad is a great opportunity to learn about different legal systems and cultures.  Students are able to study abroad either through an ABA approved foreign study program or through an individually organized program.  More information is provided in the Student Handbook at page 39.  The Law School offers a China Summer Law Program during the summer.  Information on study abroad can be found at http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/foreign_study.html.  You should start your exploration with the Registrar and the Associate Dean or the Dean of Students.

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What is the clinical program?

The clinic program offers students the opportunity to represent “live” clients.  Students take a minimum of four clinic credits and can choose from a variety of clinics.  Clinic offerings are numerous and described on the web at http://www.umt.edu/law/students/clinics/default.php.  Students may also find a clinic of their own choosing by applying for an independent clinic meeting the requirements set forth in the 2014-2015 Student Handbook beginning at page 28.  If you are interested in an “independent external clinic” please see Geri Fox, Clinic Coordinator, to obtain application information.

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What if I have a clinical idea that I don’t see offered by the programs at UMSL? 

If students would like to enroll in a clinic opportunity not a part of our regular clinic offerings, student may apply for an “independent external clinic.”  There are requirements though, and Geri Fox, our Clinical Coordinator, can provide the details on the application process.  Be sure to begin working with Geri and the Clinic Director early on in the application process for an independent external clinic.

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Do I need to do something law related my 1L summer?

No. You do not need to do something law related your first summer. Many successful students begin good careers out of law school without having legal related summer employment. Nevertheless, legal summer employment especially after your second year is very common among students. 

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What are the employment rates of UMSL graduates? 

Employment rates vary each year.  We update employment rates on our website annually at http://www.umt.edu/law/admissions/ABA Required Disclosures.php and at http://www.umt.edu/law/careerservices/Placement and Bar Passage.php .  Check out our Career Services page or better yet meet with our Career Services Director Lori Freeman for advice on how best to proceed with your employment search.  Be sure to participate in our Interview Weekend.

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I want to clerk for a judge, what should I do?

If you are interested in a clerkship be sure to attend the clerkship workshop.  Also meet with Professor Wandler, Professor Johnstone or Dean King-Ries for one-on-one advice on applying for clerkships.

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How do I get a job in the library?

The library hires student desk assistants during Spring semester for the following academic year. If you are interested in a position, see Phil Cousineau in the library and he will contact you when positions open.

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When, or should I ever, sign up for a bar prep course (especially during 1L year when they push it so hard)? 

Taking a bar prep course is not for everyone.  It may be that you want to wait to decide whether and where you should sign up to take a bar prep course until you have a better idea about where your employer needs you to be licensed to practice law.

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What states will we be bar-certified for if we take the Montana bar after 2016?

The National Conference of Bar Examiners website http://www.ncbex.org/about-ncbe-exams/mbe/ provides a list of jurisdictions using the same exam as Montana.  Click on “Map of Jurisdictions Using NCBE Tests.”

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Where can I find old tests and other study aids around midterm and finals time? 

The law school hosts a database of previous exams and outlines on the "Deliberate Practice" Moodle page. Also, you may contact the Teaching Assistant for your class for more resources. 

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How do I get access to Westlaw?

You will be given instructions on registering for Westlaw, Lexis and Bloomberg Law in your Legal Research course.

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Are my textbooks on Reserve in the library?

The library has copies of required textbooks for required classes on Reserve. The library may have copies of textbooks for your elective courses if a faculty member loans a copy. Reserve books can be checked-out for 2 hours. The library has only one copy of each book.

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Does the library have outlines and other study materials?

The library does have study materials like nutshells, hornbooks and question and answer books, but quantities are limited. However, all law students have free electronic access to the West Study Aids through Westlaw.

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When is the Law Library open?

During the semester, the Library is open M-Th, 7:30am-9:00pm; F, 7:30am- 5:00pm; Sat., 8:30am-5:00pm; Sun., Noon-5:00pm. The library is closed on holidays and hours vary during breaks. The hours are posted on the library’s website. Law students have access to the law library 24-hours a day using their Griz cards.

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Where can I study that isn't in the law school?

We are working to find an excellent answer to this question. Please check back soon.

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How can I get a carrel in the library?

The carrels on the mezzanine of the library are assigned to second and third year students by the SBA in the Spring. The carrels on the main floor are open seating that anyone can use while they are in the library, but items should not be stored in them.

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Where do I find coffee?

You may get coffee at the School of Business basement coffee shop, Biz Buzz. The school is located across from the Curry Health Center less than 300 yards from the Law School South Entrance. The Education Building across from the Law school on the left hand side as you leave the front door also has a small Liquid Planet in its southeast corner.  You may also purchase coffee from the Market at the University Center on Campus.

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Where do I find housing?

Many students find housing online through websites such as Craigslist. Furthermore, the university has a housing program for graduate students that you may apply for. Also, students and property owners often advertise available housing at the law school. Please refer to the "General Notices" bulletin board in the 1L Commons.

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Where do I print?

Students can print from designated printers in the Law School through use of their Griz Card. These printers are available in the library and in the 1L commons. The computers in the library reading room are for use by the public. You can print from them, but it costs 20 cents per page, cash only. You cannot print from them after 5:00pm.

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Can I start a student group if my niche isn't represented?

Yes. In order to start a student group you need to present appropriate bylaws and 10 signatures of initial members to the SBA Executive Board. After the SBA will vote and confirm the student group into existence if the bylaws and signatures are approved.

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I want to gain experience. What pro bono/volunteer opportunities are available 1L year?

There are many opportunities for pro bono work at the law school. The SBA organizes a pro bono fair at the beginning of the fall semester every year. Please attend the fair to explore those opportunities. Furthermore, you may contact the SBA community relations coordinator for more information.

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What opportunities are there for me to get involved in the local community and gain legal experience? 

Missoula has a vibrant legal community that regularly employs law students to aid in their practice. Please refer to Career Service for more information. In addition you may contact the SBA Community Relations Coordinator for more resources in getting involved with the community. 

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Is it possible to get in-state tuition after starting school with out-of-state status? 

Yes. However there are criteria that you must satisfy to qualify for the change of status. Please contact the Financial Aid office in Griz Central for more information. 

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