Law Schools in Portland, OR with Degree Program Overviews

Feb 22, 2019

The Portland, Oregon, area has three schools that offer law programs within about 50 miles of downtown. Learn about degree and certificate options as well as program requirements at two of these schools to make an informed education decision.

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Portland Law Schools

Individuals interested in attending law school in the Portland area have a couple of options to choose from, both of which are less than an hour from the city's center. Read about the required courses and experiential opportunities at these institutions, and then review a table of stats and facts about the schools.

  • At five miles from downtown, Lewis & Clark College offers a law school in the city of Portland. Along with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree, it also offers advanced Master of Laws degrees as well as certificate programs in law.
  • Another option is Willamette University, which is in the nearby city of Salem about 44 miles from central Portland. It offers a Juris Doctor, a joint JD/MBA degree, advanced law degrees and certificate programs.

Comparison of Schools

A law school education isn't inexpensive, which is something you'll want to consider when deciding on where to apply. Take a look at this table to compare costs, enrollment numbers and more for the two profiled institutions.

Lewis & Clark College Willamette University
School Type 4-year; private not-for-profit 4 year; private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2017) 3,339* 2,498*
Campus Setting Large city Midsize city
Law School Tuition (J.D. degrees; 2018-19) $46,320** $45,530***

Source: *NCES College Navigator, **Lewis & Clark College, ***Willamette University

Lewis & Clark College

Lewis & Clark College offers a first professional law degree, two advanced law degrees and graduate certificate programs in nine areas of law. The law school was founded as a state law school in 1884 before it became the private Northwestern College of Law in 1915. It merged with Lewis & Clark College in 1965.

Juris Doctor

Lewis & Clark offers a Juris Doctor (J.D.) program that requires 89 semester hours of credit. Upper division students take courses that focus on their areas of interest; requirements include at least one seminar course and the completion of two papers - one as part of a writing-intensive experience and one as part of a capstone experience. Completion of a course in professionalism and ethics or participation in a clinic in civil litigation for low-income clients is also required. Students have the option of completing the 4-year program in a shorter period of time by mixing full-time and part-time semesters to accommodate internships and part-time work in law offices.

Certificate Programs in Law

These certificates are presented to Juris Doctor students at graduation along with their law degrees and demonstrate that students have received additional specialized education and training in a particular area of the law. Lewis & Clark College offers certificate programs in environmental and natural resources, business, tax, intellectual property, criminal, animal, energy and sustainability, public interest and international law. Each certificate program has its own requirements. For example, the Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law requires students to write two substantial papers on natural resources or environmental topics and earn a certain number of credits from a set curriculum.

Master of Studies in Environmental, Natural Resources and Energy Law

Students who seek to practice law as it relates to environmental issues or pursue careers in education or public policy take courses and seminars on topics such as climate change, environmental justice law, wildlife law, ocean and coastal law, renewable energy law, toxic torts, water law and Native American natural resources law. There are also internship opportunities available locally. The college offers several natural resources and environmental classes during the summer at its Environmental Summer School. Clinic options for gaining hands-on experience include the Western Legal Resources Center and the International Environmental Law Project (IELP).

Master of Laws in Animal Law

The college's Master of Laws in Animal Law degree is among the first advanced legal degrees in animal law in the country. The program requires 26 semester hours of credit. Students take required courses and seminars on animal law fundamentals and administrative law. There is also an optional written thesis. Tracks are available in animals in agriculture, companion animals and wildlife.

Willamette University

Willamette University offers a first professional law degree, a joint law/MBA degree, advanced law degrees and various certificate programs in law. The college emphasizes small enrollments, with an array of programs and specializations available.

Juris Doctor

Willamette University's Juris Doctor program is a 3-year course of study that requires 90 hours of credit. Law students must maintain a 2.30 grade point average throughout their final two years and complete an intensive legal research and writing requirement. First-year students undertake common courses such as legal research and writing, contracts, criminal law, torts and civil procedure. Second-year students take three mandatory courses and then focus their coursework on their specific interest areas. In the final year, students continue to focus on their specific areas of interest.

Certificate Programs in Law

Willamette University offers certificate programs in law that focus on five subject areas: law and business, law and government, international and comparative law, dispute resolution and sustainability law. Each certificate has unique program requirements and specialized courses that are completed in tandem with the larger degree program. For example, the Certificate in Law and Government program provides in-depth exposure to public law. It requires at least 14 hours of specialized study as part of the overall Juris Doctor program. Courses cover state and local government law, administrative law, constitutional law and public policy studies. Students receive their certificates when they receive their law degrees.

Juris Doctor/Master in Business Administration

The university's 4-year Juris Doctor/Master in Business Administration joint degree program allows students to concentrate in business, management and law. The program requires 120 semester hours, of which 72 must come from the law college. Students must apply and be admitted to both the law and management schools to be eligible for this program.

Master of Laws in Dispute Resolution

This program offers courses in mediation, arbitration, negotiation, cross-cultural dispute resolution, conflict theory, international law and more. Career options for graduates include public service or private practice.

Master of Laws in Transnational Law

The university's Master of Laws in Transnational Law degree program requires a mix of domestic, international and transnational courses in subjects like refugee and immigration law. Students expand their knowledge in areas such as international business transactions, international law and dispute resolution. This program requires 25 hours of credit and can be completed in one year. Students are also subject to a writing requirement.

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