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Academic Policies

Academic Standards

Students at the Law School shall refrain from academic misconduct. Enrollment as a student at the Law School acknowledges the Honor Code’s existence and confirms the student’s knowledge of the contents and duties of the Honor Code. A full copy of the Honor Code can be found on the Law School website.

To be in good standing, a student must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.33 and not be on probation for any other reason. Students who do not have a cumulative GPA of 2.33 or higher at the end of any semester (including summer term) normally are permitted to remain in the Law School on probation during the next single semester (including summer term) for which they enroll (the “probationary semester”). Note: For transfer students, cumulative GPA for probationary purposes refers to the cumulative GPA for all J.D. courses completed at the Law School.

During the probationary semester, law students must meet all conditions imposed on probationary students. The primary condition is achieving a cumulative GPA of at least 2.33 by the end of the probationary semester. In addition, first-year probationary students must drop one doctrinal course in the spring semester, as determined by the Assistant Dean for Students. First-year students on probation are required to participate in academic support activities, including but not limited to a workshop series, individualized counseling, and instruction, as determined by the Assistant Dean for Students. Second- and third-year students on probation may also be required to participate in academic support activities.

At the end of the probationary semester, the Law School will exclude from further enrollment students who have not met the conditions of their probation, including achieving a cumulative GPA of 2.33 or higher. The Law School will readmit an excluded student only in exceptional cases. The Dean decides whether a student will be readmitted, following a recommendation from the Admissions Advisory Committee.  An excluded student can petition the Admissions Advisory Committee for readmission as follows:

First, any excluded student may petition the Admissions Advisory Committee to be allowed to continue for one additional semester on probation. The Admissions Advisory Committee may impose conditions and usually will require that the readmitted student achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 2.33 at the end of each subsequent semester. The Admissions Advisory Committee also may require the student to repeat some of the courses previously taken, and in such case the student usually will forfeit all credit previously earned in the courses retaken but the  grade earned previously will be counted in the student’s academic average upon readmission. If the Committee’s conditions are not met, the student will be excluded again.

Second, students excluded because they did not maintain a 2.33 or higher at the end of their first year may petition to repeat the first year. In most cases, the readmitted student will forfeit all credit previously earned at the Law School and the grades earned previously will not be counted in the student’s academic average upon readmission. The Admissions Advisory Committee may impose conditions and may require that the readmitted student achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 2.33 at the end of each subsequent semester. If the Committee’s conditions are not met, the student will be excluded again.

In addition, law students may be put on probation or excluded for other reasons. Students may be excluded regardless of grades because of excessive absences from class. A student may also be put on probation or excluded as a sanction for a violation of the Law School’s Honor Code, or for nonacademic reasons when the Dean deems it in the Law School’s best interest. In addition, Law students are subject to the policies governing all students attending the University as stated in the UA Student Handbook ( Failure to follow those policies could result in disciplinary action by the University, including probation and exclusion, against a law student.

Class Attendance

A student may miss class only for good cause, such as (1) sickness which disables the student from attending class or poses a significant threat to the health of others; (2) sickness of, or accident involving, a spouse or dependent, which requires the student to be with the spouse or dependent; (3) an accident which necessarily prevents the student’s attendance in class; (4) the death of a family member or friend; (5) an interview for a summer clerkship or for a permanent position after graduation, if the interview cannot reasonably be scheduled to avoid conflict; (6) a meeting or event at which the student must appear as a representative of the law school; or (7) other good cause as is warranted under the circumstances. Deadlines for activities such as Law Review, moot court, or other course assignments do not constitute good cause for missing class.

A student who is absent for any reason from more than the equivalent of three (50-minute) class hours per semester credit hour in a course may be dropped from the roll or not allowed to sit for the exam and receive an “F” for the course. In the case of a four-credit course that normally meets three times a week, this generally means that a student can miss no more than eight class sessions in a given semester. In most other instances, a student can miss no more than the equivalent of three weeks of class in a given semester. If a student’s absences exceed three class hours per semester credit, the Dean, after consulting with the professor, will determine whether the student will be withdrawn without a penalty or not be allowed to sit for the exam and receive an “F” for the course.

A professor may enact a more strict attendance policy than the above; an announcement of such a policy must be made at the beginning of the semester. In seminars and workshops it is likely that no absences will be permitted without a review of the reasons therefore.

When a student has missed more than three class hours per semester credit hour or has exceeded the number of absences allowed by the professor (when the professor adopts a stricter policy) all absences from class in that course are subject to review. The Dean reviews the student’s absences to determine the reasonableness of each absence and of all absences considered as a whole. If the Dean determines that the absences are for good cause and that it is in the best interest of the student to allow the student to complete the course during that semester, no sanction will be imposed.

The normal sanction for failure to comply with the attendance policy is to not allow the student to sit for the exam and receive and “F” in the course. However, with the Dean’s permission, the student’s grade as otherwise determined in that course may be lowered as the sanction in extraordinary circumstances.

Students are charged with knowledge of this information.

Although it is not the general practice to do so, class participation or lack thereof may be considered in determining the student’s final course grade, provided the professor has given the class due notice. In courses other than seminars and workshops the professor may raise or lower a student’s grade as otherwise determined in that course, not more than one-third of a letter grade for class participation or lack thereof. In seminars class participation or lack thereof may not count for more than 50% of the final course grade. In workshops class participation or lack thereof may be the sole determinant of the grade.

For serious failure on the part of the student to participate in class as required by the professor, the student may be dropped from the course.

Students are expected to arrive for class in a timely manner. If a student is late in getting to class, the professor has the discretion to determine whether to count the student as present.

Graduation Requirements

Upon favorable recommendation of the faculty, the juris doctor (J.D.) degree is conferred upon students who have

  • maintained overall grade point averages of at least 2.33 for all work attempted in the School of Law
  • earned at least 90 semester hours of credit for work in the Law School, including all required courses
  • successfully completed a seminar
  • successfully completed at least six credit hours in designated experiential courses
  • maintained, in the judgment of the faculty, a satisfactory record of honorable conduct befitting a prospective member of the legal profession
  • completed requirements for the J.D. not less than 24 months after matriculating as a law student and not more than 6 calendar years after matriculating as a law student

Limitation on Certain Credits

Students may not use more than 25 hours of credit toward graduation from the following activities:

  • Independent Study
  • Externships
  • Journal Credit
  • Moot Court/Trial Advocacy Competition Credit
  • Classes taken in another department

In addition, students entering after Fall 2018 may receive no more than 15 hours of credit towards graduation from externships and no more than 3 hours of credit from Independent Study.

Alabama Students Visiting Other Law Schools

In exceptional cases, law students are allowed to visit for the third year at another law school. The student should have a compelling reason, such as to keep a family together, or sometimes to take advantage of a special concentration of law that we do not offer. The Law School must be ABA accredited and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will make the final decision as to whether to approve the visit.

The student must make all arrangements with the other school. All courses must be approved prior to the student registering for them and the grades transfer as “Pass”. Grades at another school do not affect the GPA here. Students spending a semester away are not ranked with their classmates here.

Students who plan to do work at another law school must obtain the written approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, prior to undertaking the work. When approved work is completed away from The University of Alabama School of Law, the credit earned will be applied toward hours needed for graduation and will be recorded in the student’s record; however, grade points earned in courses and seminars away from the School of Law will not be used in the School of Law’s computation of the student’s overall grade point average. When Alabama law students taking classes in other divisions or at other law schools ask to transfer credit, credit for grades below “B” will not be transferred. Approval of planned work at another law school does not necessarily alter the residency requirements of the School of Law. Normally, permission to do work at another law school is given only under unusual circumstances.

The student is responsible for providing us with an official transcript from the school they were attending at the end of each semester and a final transcript before we accept the credits and certify them to take the Bar. We generally do not accept letters from the Registrar certifying the courses and grades. The burden is on the student to have this information forwarded (for instance, schools will not release transcripts if the student has an outstanding tuition account) to ensure that we have the courses on record and do not certify a student to the Bar without the official transcript to evaluate.

Students will not pay tuition at our Law School, but will pay at the school they are visiting. The student must make all financial arrangements, including any consortium financial agreement. The student should stay in close communication with the University of Alabama Law Registrar. If a student visits another law school and is a scholarship recipient at Alabama’s Law School, the scholarship will not be applied toward his/her tuition during visiting status. Scholarship recipients must notify the Admissions Office if they intend to visit at another law school.

Work Transferred from Other Graduate Divisions on Campus

A student may take up to 6 hours of graduate work from other divisions of The University of Alabama so long as (1) there is prior approval by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, (2) the student articulates in writing how the class enhances his or her law school curriculum, and (3) the student makes a “B” or better in the course. Students may also request that undergraduate courses may be included within these 6 hours, although credit for such courses is only given in those limited circumstances in which the student can demonstrate that the rigor of the course is equivalent to a graduate level course.

A student may not transfer credits from other schools and divisions that were earned prior to the time the student matriculated as a law student.

Other divisions on campus may charge a fee to students outside their division who enroll in classes.

Transferred Students from Another Law School

A selected number of students each year are allowed to transfer from other law schools with advance standing. These students must complete a transfer student application. The admissions process is very similar to the regular admissions process.

The Law School will accept no more than 30 hours of credit from another school. An evaluation of credit is done on a case-by-case basis. The Law School may require particular courses of transferred students. Students wishing to transfer will not be able to transfer C’s (including C+, C, and C-) or their equivalents.

Usually transferred students will not have class ranks.

A transfer student may be considered for the following graduation honors if the student’s Alabama Law cumulative GPA falls within the prescribed range: cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude, and Order of the Coif. For transfer students, an additional calculation is made, and eligibility for those honors is based on the lower of the following two numbers: 1) cumulative GPA for all J.D. courses completed at the Law School or 2) cumulative GPA for all J.D. courses completed at both the Law School and the transferring student’s original law school (including courses not transferred).

Reviewing and Appealing a Grade

  • Students should review their exams before requesting an appeal. Review of an exam can be arranged through the Registrar’s Office. While students are encouraged to discuss their exams with their faculty members in order to see how they can improve upon their performance, students who wish to request a review or appeal of their grade should wait until these processes have conclude before meeting with a faculty member to discuss an exam in order to preserve anonymity. Students should be aware that, by meeting with a professor to discuss an exam, they are waiving their right to later request a grade review or appeal of that exam.
  • A student may request that his or her grade be recalculated by the faculty member who assigned it. The faculty member should change the grade only if it is determined to be the product of a mathematical or clerical error. Faculty members may not change grades, after they have been reported to students, based on other considerations, such as a re-evaluation of the strength of an analysis. Such considerations should be addressed in the initial grading process. In circumstances of anonymous grading, recalculation generally should be arranged through the Registrar’s Office so that the student’s anonymity can be maintained.
  • A student may appeal a grade solely on the ground that it was arbitrary or capricious. A student is not required to request a review by the original professor before submitting an appeal, although they are strongly encouraged to do so. In order to submit an appeal, the student must provide the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs a written statement explaining why the student believes the grade to be arbitrary or capricious. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs shall ask another faculty member (whenever possible, a faculty member with some expertise in the subject matter) to review the graded material, together with the student’s written statement and (whenever possible) a sampling of other graded material from the same class sufficient to establish a context for the challenged grade. If the reviewing faculty member determines that the grade is not arbitrary or capricious, the process is concluded.
  • If the reviewing faculty member determines that the grade is arbitrary or capricious, the reviewing faculty member must suggest a grade, or a range of grades, that would be appropriate for the graded material. The Dean shall give the faculty member who awarded the original grade an opportunity to change it to conform to the findings of the reviewing faculty member. If the opportunity is declined, the Dean shall appoint a committee of faculty members to review the relevant materials. If the committee determines that the grade originally awarded was arbitrary or capricious, the committee shall award an appropriate grade. Grades should be changed by this procedure only on very rare occasions. In circumstances of anonymous grading, the identity of the student should not be revealed during the process of appeal to the faculty member who awarded the grade or to those who are reviewing it.

Requests that a faculty member review a grade must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office by the last day of classes of the semester following that for which the grade was awarded (the “semester following” not including Summer or Interim terms). Statements explaining why a student believes a grade to be arbitrary or capricious must be submitted to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs by the same deadline.

If, following review or appeal, a changed grade results in a deviation from an otherwise mandatory grading standard, other grades need not be changed to compensate.

Class Load

Law students must be enrolled for at least 10 credit hours – except during the summer. No student may enroll, except in extraordinary circumstances and with permission of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, in more than 16 credit hours during the regular semester, one class during interim term, or 2 classes during the summer term.

For courses offered in a traditional classroom setting, each credit hour requires an expectation that students will spend not less than 750 minutes (equivalent to 50 minutes per week for 15 weeks) in classroom or direct faculty instruction, and not less than 1,800 minutes (equivalent to 120 minutes per week for 15 weeks) in work outside of the classroom. Time spent taking an examination may count toward the “classroom” requirement. Work outside of the classroom may include such things as reading assigned materials, studying, outlining, researching, writing papers, and preparing for examinations.

For courses or activities that are not offered in a traditional classroom setting, including field placements, simulations, and clinics, each credit hour must reflect an equivalent amount of work (totaling 2,550 minutes).

Bar Admission

Each student should understand at the time of initial Law School enrollment the requirements for admission to the bar of the state in which the student intends to practice following graduation. Several states, including Alabama, require that students, shortly after beginning the study of law, register with the board of bar examiners in that state. The board of bar examiners of the state in question will provide the most complete information regarding state requirements. Addresses are available in the Bounds Law Library and in the Law School Student Records Office.

Disability Services

Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) prior to entering the University. ODS is the central contact point for students with disabilities at UA. Services for students focus upon providing accommodations and services to help meet University demands, while promoting student responsibility and self-advocacy. Students who seek accommodations must first register with ODS during each semester for which they wish to receive accommodations.

ODS is located at 1000 Houser Hall. ODS can be reached at (205) 348-4285 (Voice), (205) 348-3081 (TTY), (205) 348-0804 (Fax), (website), and (email).

The Law School’s administration and the University’s Office of Disability Services work together to help individuals with disabilities achieve and maintain individual autonomy. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs so that the individual’s needs for support services can be evaluated and accommodated in a timely manner. Students should not contact a professor directly as this may compromise the student’s ability to be graded anonymously.

Military Leaves

Under federal regulations, see 34 C.F.R. § 668.18, a student who has been admitted to or who has been enrolled at the University of Alabama School of Law may ask for a military leave to fulfill a U.S. military obligation. If the student’s absence was necessitated by this obligation and there is no dishonorable or bad conduct discharge from the uniformed services, then the student will be promptly readmitted if the cumulative length of his/her absence and of all previous absences from the School of Law due to military service does not exceed five years. The student continues law school from the point where he or she left, and the academic requirements at the point when he or she left apply. Students leaving law school should notify the Records Office of their departure. Students leaving school because of military service do not lose Law School scholarships, though all conditions of scholarships remain in place. All Law School scholarships additionally are limited to six semesters. Students leaving because of military service may initiate readmission by contacting the Records Office. Students readmitted to the Law School under this policy are not subject to the six-year time limit for completing the J.D. degree.

Resident/Nonresident Classification

For purposes of tuition payment, residence for a student under 20 years of age is based on the domicile of his or her parent(s), unless the student is married or has had the disability of non-age removed by court action. A student who is 20 years of age or older may apply for residence classification by submitting written intent to establish permanent residence and by providing objective manifestations of a year’s participation as a citizen of Alabama. The functioning role as a citizen may begin at age 19 or older; it must be ongoing for 12 consecutive months and must show clearly a role different from that of a student only. Applications and guidelines for establishing residence are available through the University Records Office. The application and all supporting documents should be submitted to the Law School Admissions Office prior to the first day of class for which the change of residency status is sought.