Requirements for the JD

Total hours required

86 credit hours (of which 65 must be for a William & Mary Law letter grade).  Additionally, the American Bar Association specifies that no more than 20 percent of the required credit hours may be taken in any one semester.  At William & Mary, this means students may not take more than 17 credits in any one semester.


First Year Credit Requirement:

  • Students must earn 31 credits of  Legal Practice Program coursework during their first year: fall 15 credits, spring 16 credits.  


Length of program This is a full-time program of legal education.  As such, the American Bar Association specifies that it must be completed in no fewer than 24 months and no more than 84 months from the date of matriculation as a degree-seeking first-year law student.
Courses required
  • In the first year: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, Torts.
  • Three semesters in the Legal Practice Program including the first-year courses:  Legal Research & Writing I and II; Lawyering Skills I and II; and the second year course: Advanced Writing and Practice.
  • In the second or third year: Professional Responsibility.
  • One or more experiential courses totaling at least six credit hours. Three of these six credits are satisfied by the required Lawyering Skills I and II in the first year.
  • Students who have been identified, based on academic performance, as likely to benefit from additional bar exam preparation studies will be required to enroll in the Law School’s Directed Reading in Advanced Legal Analysis and Doctrine during their third-year as a condition of graduation. The Dean’s Office will be responsible for identifying and contacting such students and granting exceptions to the requirement, on a case-by-case basis for good cause.
Required writing experiences


  • In the first year: Legal Research & Writing I and II
  • In the second year: Advanced Writing and Practice
Complete the Graduate Employment Survey You will not be certified to graduate without completing and updating the Survey.

In addition, you, as a law student, must maintain good academic standing as defined by the Law School.

Note that curricular requirements are subject to change.