Inside Stetson Law’s Top Law Concentrations

June 14, 2021

Students in a practice trial at Stetson Law

All of Stetson Law’s six concentrations provide students with the opportunity to pursue a specialized subject area of law and prepare for a future career path. However, these are the top three concentrations that are most popular with our students.

Stetson Law Advocacy Concentration

The Advocacy Concentration at Stetson Law is widely-known because Stetson 

consistently ranks amongst the top Advocacy Programs in U.S. News & World Report (22 times of the past 27 years at number 1) and has a winning record in dispute resolution, trial team, and moot court competitions. “If you’re getting an Advocacy Concentration,” says Elizabeth Boals, Director, Center for Excellence in Advocacy and Assistant Professor of Law, “You’re not just learning about one area of law — you’re learning how to be an advocate within multiple areas of law.”

What is advocacy? 

Some may think the Advocacy Concentration is just for those who want to hone their skills in litigation, however, “Advocacy isn't something that just occurs in a courtroom. These are things we do as attorneys when we’re interviewing our clients, we’re interviewing with an eye towards what we can advocate for on their behalf.” says Stacey Turmel, Associate Director of Advocacy at Stetson. 

“When you have an attorney who’s working for the Department of Children and Families, their job is to advocate on behalf of the child and what is going to keep that child safe. So advocacy doesn’t just happen in a courtroom — it’s happening in all areas that are leading up to that, and the traditional view of civil and criminal litigation is not the only thing that’s out there anymore.”

What is an example of a clinic or externship a student will do in this concentration? 

“I would definitely say that prosecution and defense clinics are very popular with students who are interested in criminal law,” says Associate Director Turmel. “For the students who are interested in civil law, that will range from the Immigration Clinic, which is also a very popular one, to one of our Veterans Advocacy Clinics. Stetson has been highly regarded with how we treat our veteran students. We have a Veterans Advocacy Clinic and we just launched an Advanced Veterans Advocacy Clinic where students go out [in the field] and engage in policy issues. We also have clinics for students who are interested in the civil arena in local government, child law, family law, and more.”

Why should a student choose this concentration? 

The Advocacy Concentration is ultimately a great fit for anyone who wants to learn how to help people and advocate on behalf of a person or an issue. 

“Advocacy is part of everything that an attorney does,” says Associate Director Turmel. “Even if you have an attorney who is a transactional lawyer or if you have an attorney who is involved in risk management for a company, their job is to make sure that nobody creates risk for the company. So what are they doing? They’re advocating on behalf of protecting the company. Even if they’ve never stepped foot in a courtroom, they’re still looking out for the best interest of that organization. So, if there’s a student who thinks that they want to help people, and that’s a wide range, then here’s an opportunity for you to test the waters in many different advocacy pathways of helping people.” 

In addition, having the Advocacy Concentration on your resume from a law school known for its advocacy can be an added benefit for students moving forward in their careers. “To go to the school that’s known for trial advocacy, you get to have the concentration that’s advocacy-related, and I think that’s a marketing asset for the student,” says Director Boals. 

What should students know about this concentration? 

“This is a flexible program that grows as they grow, so that it covers their evolution, from ‘I just want to be an advocate’ to ‘I want to be a litigator in civil rights,’” says Director Boals. “It is a living-breathing thing that is flexible, rich and deep, and has a lot of different paths.”

Business Law Concentration

Stetson Law’s newest concentration, the Business Law Concentration, prepares students for careers in business law through experiential learning and hands-on mentorship. The concentration’s coursework provides students with a breadth of business law courses and the opportunity to narrow in on what they are specifically passionate about.

What is unique about the Business Law Concentration?

The Business Law Concentration is different from the other concentrations in that students must be able to demonstrate proficiency in accounting through coursework, and Excel, through experience or taking a non-credit course.

This is because, according to Theresa J. Pulley Radwan, Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Business Law Concentration, “We recognize that in order to be a good business lawyer, you need to be not just a good lawyer but a good business person. You have to be able to understand when you’re in a meeting with the CFO the financial documents that the CFO is talking about and the fact that you know the law does no good if you don’t also understand the business.” 

The program ensures that regardless of background, students in the Business Concentration gain the skills they need to succeed in the business world. 

What is an example of a clinic or externship a student will do in this concentration? 

“One of my personal favorites is the In-House Counsel Externship, because I run it,” says Professor Radwan. “It is probably our largest of our experiential opportunities for our business law students — it’s actually one of our largest externships on campus. It’s a very popular one. It places students with in-house counsels somewhere in the Tampa Bay area. We’ve even had a few students in the summer get placements outside of Tampa Bay, and we will bring that into the program as well. It’s an opportunity for students to see what it’s like to be in-house counsel and even if they don’t end up becoming in-house counsel, knowing what in-house counsel does makes them better as the external representatives of a corporation, so that’s a big one.” 

Why should a student choose this concentration? 

“One of the real benefits of the concentration is that it allows students to think about what types of courses they want to put together in a package that is business law,” says Professor Radwan. “There is a tremendous amount of flexibility. We have a few courses that are required courses, so everyone takes Business Entities, Tax, and Uniform Commercial Code, but then there’s an extensive list of electives so that students can decide even within the broad category of business law where they most want to focus their attention. So it’s going to be a little bit of everything because business law includes a lot of areas, and guidance from the mentors will help them decide where their particular path or their niche in business law might be.”

In addition, the Business Law Concentration is a good fit for those who are interested in the dual J.D./MBA program because the courses do overlap, says Radwan. “We’ll have some students who just do the JD/MBA and some that just do the concentration, but it’s a very natural fit to consider both because those interested in them tend to be the same group of students. The good news is that a lot of the coursework is complementary. For example, you must take Business Entities for both the concentration and the JD/MBA program, so you have the opportunity to do both and to use some courses to meet both requirements.” 

Social Justice Advocacy 

The Social Justice Advocacy Concentration provides students with the knowledge and experience to become strong advocates for the social justice issues they are passionate about.

Why should a student choose this concentration? 

Kristen D. Adams, Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Social Justice Advocacy Concentration, says, “When students come into SJA, they choose either the criminal track or the civil track, and it’s a porous boundary, they can move between the two if they want to. Students who want to go into, for example, prosecution or public defense are likely to go on the criminal track. Students who want to go to work for a legal services organization, they are going to do the civil track. Policy could be either side.

A lot of our students do the concentration because they want to be full-time public interest attorneys, whether civil side or criminal side. A number of our students, though do the concentration because they care about social justice, even if they’re planning on going into a private firm, for example, so not every student who does the concentration is going to do a career that is full-time social justice advocacy, but they are doing the concentration because it matters to them.”

What is the Directed Research Project (DRP)? 

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the SJA Concentration is the Directed Research Project (DRP). This project gives students the opportunity to be creative in their research and interests. 

“Students are meant to go out and do something wonderful in the world while they are still in law school,” says Professor Adams. “So the student might choose to write a traditional scholarly paper for that, but they don't have to. They could write a policy manual for prosecutors or survey judges’ attitudes on something or write a whitepaper for the legislature or do a narrated powerpoint that raises awareness on an issue. I had a student in the fall do a short film and her audience is actually high school and even middle school-age children who are thinking about a career in law.” 

Jasmine Mattear, Social Justice Advocacy student, says “my DRP was on state attorneys and how their offices can be used to reduce recidivism rates and address inequities in the legal system because of their discretion,” says Jasmine Matter, Social Justice Advocacy student. “I actually interviewed 16 state attorneys in Florida. I wrote a paper based on those interviews along with other research that I did.“

“We tell them that the sky really is the limit with the DRP because it’s a requirement that goes above and beyond the regular graduation requirement,” explains Professor Adams. “All of our students have to do either a seminar paper or another scholarly paper. Our project can be less formal because they’ve already satisfied that requirement. So we encourage them to get creative with it and to have fun with it because it’s really a way for them to begin their legacy in social justice advocacy while they’re still in law school.”

Specialize Your Area of Law Expertise at Stetson Law

There are many concentrations to choose from at Stetson Law. In each certificate program, you’ll gain the specialized experience and generalized law knowledge to enter your chosen career path ready for success. If you want to learn more about how concentrations work at Stetson Law, read our blog post An Insider's Guide to Stetson Law's Concentrations.

Topics: Law School Insider Tips