Agricultural Law Schools: How to Choose

A few law schools offer specialized programs in which students take courses in a specific area, such as constitutional law, intellectual property law and agricultural law. At these schools, students can take a specialized curriculum within their J.D. (Juris Doctor) degree program. LL.M. (Master of Laws) programs are available as well.

How to Choose an Agricultural Law School

Agricultural lawyers handle cases that range from land disputes in farming to pollution claims against corporations. While government agencies remain major employers, many corporations are hiring agricultural lawyers to ensure that they maintain compliance with government standards. Some agricultural law programs include visiting scholars as part of their faculty. These scholars are often internationally recognized experts or former politicians that add different perspectives to the curriculum. Agricultural law students will also benefit from councils on food policy or agricultural resources. Mock trials allow students to practice in a courtroom setting during a simulated case. A trial practicum is a for-credit seminar in which students observe an actual trail in all the phases from jury selection to the verdict. Be sure to check out the following important considerations before choosing a law school:

  • Agricultural lawyers work with a wide range of issues so students may wish to seek a school with exposure to a wide range of organizations that bring guests speakers to campus and offer educational opportunities and networking events.
  • Students might investigate schools for law review centers, which provide research opportunities and experience in the field.
  • Prospective agricultural lawyers may be interested in schools with faculty members that are active in the field.
  • Students may want to seek programs that include courses devoted to the major issues regarding agriculture and the environment such as water, land use and natural resources.
  • Common campus organizations that aspiring agricultural lawyers might look for include the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund and the Environmental Law Society.

Agricultural Law Program Overviews

Agricultural Juris Doctor Programs

Juris Doctor (J.D.) programs are required for a student to sit for the bar exam and become a practicing lawyer. Although rare, J.D. programs focusing on agricultural law do exist. Most programs can be completed in three years of full-time study. Some programs require all first year law students to take a uniform first year curriculum that includes general law courses such as professionalism and ethics prior to branching off into agricultural law. Courses might include:

  • Intro to agricultural law
  • Business and corporate law
  • Business taxation
  • Antitrust
  • Legal research

Agricultural Master of Laws (LL.M.) Programs

LL.M programs can be earned with the completion of one year in an individualized course of study. Students must have earned a J.D. in order to apply for an LL.M program. Currently, there are few LL.M. programs in agricultural law. This program allows students to either further their area of expertise or expand their scope of agricultural law. Coursework includes:

  • Food policy and law
  • Agricultural perspectives
  • Introduction to agricultural law
  • Federal farm programs
  • Agricultural bankruptcy

Top 10 Schools with Law Programs

College/University Institution Type
Yale University 4-year, Private
Harvard University 4-year, Private
Stanford University 4-year, Private
Columbia University 4-year, Private
University of Chicago 4-year, Private
New York University 4-year, Private
University of Pennsylvania 4-year, Private
Duke University 4-year, Private
University of California--Berkeley 4-year, Public
University of Virginia 4-year, Public

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