Joint Degree

Fact Sheet

Lewis & Clark Law School offers a joint JD /LLM degree program in environmental law. The joint degree is designed for Lewis & Clark law students who would like to obtain both a JD degree and a post-JD (Master’s) LLM degree in Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law.

Note that the LLM is an optional post-JD degree and it is not a required degree for bar application or law practice. The JD degree is the required law degree for law practice. Applicants who are interested in pursuing the JD degree only will be able to study environmental law through our JD program and will have the opportunity to receive a Certificate in Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law. The LLM degree is only for those students who wish to pursue further study in environmental law beyond their JD studies.

When the JD and LLM degrees are pursued separately, it generally takes a full-time student three years (six semesters) to earn a JD degree and one year (two semesters) to earn a LLM degree. The joint degree program will allow Lewis & Clark law students to receive both degrees in three-and-a-half years (seven semesters). Part-time options are also available.

The joint program is available only to students who will receive their JD from Lewis & Clark. Students who earn their JD degree from another law school are still eligible to apply for the LLM at Lewis & Clark as a separate two-semester degree program.

A joint degree student will first complete all requirements for the JD degree. After completing the JD degree, the student will then move into the “LLM phase” of the program. Up to 12 credits of approved environmental and natural resources classes earned as a JD will be applied towards the LLM degree. In the LLM phase of the joint degree, the student will then complete the additional credits of approved coursework needed for the LLM degree.

There are two possible times an applicant can apply to the joint program: at the same time the applicant applies to the JD program or after completion of at least two semesters of study at Lewis & Clark as a JD Students admitted to the joint degree program prior to starting the JD will be conditionally admitted to the LLM program in that they must maintain a certain GPA as a JD in order to continue on to the LLM phase of the program.

Applicants who wish to be considered for admission to the joint program prior to starting the JD program should check the “joint degree” box on the JD application form and include a short additional statement regarding their interest in and qualifications for the LLM degree. Admission to the JD program is a prerequisite for admission to the joint program. An applicant will still be considered for admission to the JD program alone if not admitted to the joint program. Applicants who are not admitted to the joint program at the time of JD admission are welcome to apply again later under the second method described below.

Students who wish to apply for the joint program after beginning the JD program at Lewis & Clark may do so at any time after completion of two semesters of study. These students will use the standard LLM application and include a statement of interest in and qualifications for the LLM program.

Note that the size of the LLM program may be limited in any given year and will also include students who have received their JD from another law school who are pursuing the LLM degree as a separate program.

Obtaining an LLM degree is not for everyone. It will require at least one semester’s worth of work and tuition beyond the JD degree. The LLM degree is not a required degree to take any bar exam in the United States and employers rarely, if ever, require a job applicant to hold an LLM degree in addition to a JD degree. The JD is the qualifying degree to take a bar exam and to practice law in the U.S. (with a few exceptions) and, in most cases, Lewis & Clark students will find that obtaining the JD degree, along with the Environmental and Natural Resources Certificate, provides adequate opportunities for employment.

However, for some students, the additional LLM degree may be of benefit and will allow students to take additional classes, as well as pursue at least one additional writing project. In general, we encourage students to seek an LLM because they wish to pursue additional study in environmental law.

For more information, you may consult our student handbook, What’s What, or contact one of our joint degree program administrators, Janice Weis or Lucy Brehm, for further guidance and suggestions. Contact Janice at or 503-768-6649, or Lucy at or 503-768-6882.