Chicago-Kent’s 1L Your Way Program allows students who know the area of law in which they would like to specialize to select a more flexible track. This optional program allows full-time J.D. students to defer a required first-year course to the second year in favor of taking either an approved, upper-division elective course or a unique first-year clinical course.

IL Your Way enhances students’ ability to exercise agency over their own education—which, literature suggests, has substantial pedagogical benefits—while also ensuring that all students are exposed to the necessary building blocks of the law. Elective Course Option. For example, students interested in intellectual property may take Patent Law, which would allow them to take the Patent Bar during their second year.  Similarly, students who know they want to specialize in labor and employment law may take Employment Relationships, and students who plan to practice in a corporate law environment may take Business Organizations. The law school hopes this flexibility enhances students’ marketability for summer employment.

Legal Clinic Option. Instead of taking an elective, students may choose to participate in one of the law school’s clinics to gain a better sense of the skills demanded in practice areas of interest to the student. Clinic practice areas at Chicago-Kent include criminal defense, employment/civil litigation, entrepreneurial law, family law, health and disability law, and tax and probate law.

Students also can opt into a rotation option for their 1L clinic options. Loosely based on the medical school model, this opportunity allows first-year students to participate along with upper level students as members of more than one clinic.

As a result of this new program, in spring 2019, Chicago-Kent College of Law became one of the few law schools to allow first-year students to fully participate in the law school’s clinics. The law school anticipates that approximately 50 Chicago-Kent 1L students will be eligible to participate in the First-Year Clinic during the spring semester each year.