The University of Maryland School of Law was authorized by the Maryland legislature in 1813 and began regular instruction in 1824. It is one of the oldest law schools in the nation, but its innovative programs make it one of the liveliest and most dynamic today. Maryland Law stands among five other professional schools on the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus. It has taken advantage of this location to become an integral part of the Baltimore-Washington legal and business community.
At the beginning of the 19th century, an aspiring lawyer would master the profession through an apprenticeship with an experienced member of the Bar. In Maryland, a prolific legal writer and commentator named David Hoffman helped to formalize legal instruction by persuading the state legislature to found the Law Institute at the University of Maryland.
Hoffman's contribution to legal instruction included a comprehensive Course of Legal Study, whose influence extended well beyond Maryland. The Hoffman program was quickly adopted by other law school professors around the country. Hoffman was also an early advocate of promoting ethical behavior among lawyers, giving rise to his enduring reputation as the father of American legal ethics.
Through Hoffman's influence, instruction at Maryland's first law school began in 1824. After a hiatus, it resumed in earnest in 1868 and has continued to grow in breadth and recognition to the present day.
The School of Law's experiential programs are among the most extensive in the country. Through our nationally recognized Clinical Law Program, students can enroll in an array of courses to represent a criminal defendant, an emerging business owner, someone with HIV/AIDS, an environmental group, a disabled person, or perhaps a scientist wanting to patent a new drug. Students meet regularly with their professors to review the professional, ethical, and practical issues raised by their work. They also explore the connections between what is taught in the classroom and the practice of law as they are experiencing it.
Maryland offers specialty certificates in Environmental Law and Law and Health Care. Other programs include Advocacy, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Business Law, Clinical Law, Intellectual Property Law, and International and Comparative Law. Because these programs are interdisciplinary, students can work with lawyers and professionals in related fields to resolve problems that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries. For example, a student in the Law and Health Care Program could supplement a diverse curriculum of classroom courses with clinical opportunities, internships with organizations such as the National Institute of Health, and an editorial position on the school's Journal of Health Care Law and Policy.
The law school community is both diverse and congenial. About half of our students come from other states or the District of Columbia, as well as many foreign countries. They represent more than 100 undergraduate schools, and about one-third identify themselves as persons of color. Maryland Law's vibrant student organizations present many opportunities for participating in the social, cultural, and political life of the school and the historic city of Baltimore.
Students interested in writing can compete for positions on five student-run legal journals. The school also has an extensive moot court program and opportunities to participate in trial advocacy, counseling and negotiation competitions. The school's Thurgood Marshall Library is the largest law library in the state.
The curriculum combines traditional offerings with cutting-edge programs and a full-time menu of elective courses. Our adjunct faculty including leading lawyers, judges, and academics in Maryland and Washington, D.C. Fifty-eight full-time faculty members teach the 678 full-time and 154 part-time students. The 12:1 student-faculty ratio promotes close contact between professors and students.
The law school is housed in the Nathan Patz Law Center, a state-of-the-art building that opened in 2002. In this new facility, simulation and clinical courses make extensive use of advanced audio-visual technology. Students use the school's many computers for research, writing, clinical work, and computer-assisted learning. Our professional staff in the offices of Admissions, Academic Achievement, Career Development, and elsewhere are committed to helping students make the most of their law school experience. Our devoted alumni mirror that commitment through their mentoring, adjunct teaching, annual giving, and service to the community.
The University of Maryland School of Law seeks to promote a more just society by educating outstanding lawyers, by advancing understanding of law and legal institutions, and by enhancing access to justice. Through excellence in teaching, we seek to prepare students for productive leadership and professional success in a wide range of careers and to promote in both students and faculty the highest standards of public and professional service.
To achieve these objectives, the School of Law is dedicated to these core commitments: