Students may take a maximum of 6 credits of non-law William & Mary course work (this option is not available to joint degree students) or take supervised independent projects with the approval of a full-time Law School instructor. Supervised independent study with an adjunct Law School instructor requires approval from the Vice Dean.
When students become interested in a specific topic within an area of the law they are encouraged to pursue this topic, either one-on-one or in a small group, under the direction of a professor, obtain the professor's permission on the Directed_Independent Project form, and submit it to the Law School Registrar for administrative registration. Independent projects include:
- Directed Reading: A maximum of five students may read and discuss the topic with a professor. Typically, this course is pure discussion. No written product is expected.
- Directed Research: The student will conduct research on specified legal topics and will report on the research to a supervising faculty member. Reports may be written or oral.
- Independent Legal Research: A short, ten-page, independent research paper.
- Independent Legal Writing: An independent writing paper equivalent to a law review article (in excess of 20 pages).
Both independent legal research and independent legal writing should evolve through four major stages, each of which should occur in consultation with the supervising faculty member guidelines:
- The student should produce a succinct, coherent topic statement that sets out the thesis of the proposed paper, and should occur prior to registration in the Independent Writing course. The statement should be attached to the Independent Writing form and submitted to the Law School registrar to trigger registration in the course.
- The student should produce a reasonably comprehensive outline of the paper, including a statement of the basic steps in the argument, the major sources used, and the tentative conclusion or comparable writing.
- The student will produce at least one draft of the paper. The drafts should be submitted with sufficient time for the supervising faculty member to make comments and for the student then to respond to those comments in the form of a subsequent draft. Normally the first draft should be submitted to the supervising faculty member by the end of the tenth week of classes.
- The student will submit the final draft by noon on the last day of exams for the registered semester, or earlier as designated by the professor.
Approval requires that a student is in both academic and judicial good standing at William & Mary. After obtaining faculty permission on the form, the student must submit a Non-Law School Course Request to the Vice Dean in order to request or receive non-law course credit. A student must explain how the non-law course is necessary for their law career goals.
An approved non-law course:
- may not involve essentially the same material covered in a course previously taken by the student
- must be offered at a graduate, or advanced undergraduate level, except for good cause shown (e.g. an introductory course in a foreign language)
- should be intellectually and academically rigorous
Students must earn a grade of C or better before the credits transfer to the law degree. Please note that credits transfer to the law degree, not the grade. The credits are "pass" and are subject to the 25 percent limitation on ungraded academic credits allowed towards the law degree.