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Principles of Course Selection


Students should be aware that certain courses may be prerequisites to taking some states' bar examinations. Certain jurisdictions also mandate the taking of the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination [M.P.R.E.] as a prerequisite for admission to practice law. Some jurisdictions limit the number of "clinical" credits that may be applied toward a law degree. Information about these and other bar admission requirements is available at

With the following exceptions, all upper-level courses are electives. Students are required to take Constitutional Law II, Professional Responsibility, a course satisfying the "Perspectives on Law and Justice" requirement, a course satisfying the ABA upper level writing requirement, and a course satisfying the "Lawyering Skills" requirement.  Courses satisfying these requirements are listed in the Course Catalogue.

Beginning with the Class of 2011, students are required to take the "Professional Responsibility" survey course (LAWS219); this course is the only course that will satisfy the one-course professional responsibility requirement.

With the consent of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, second and third-year students may take a maximum of four law-related courses (12 credits) at the graduate level in other departments and programs at Boston College.

I. Guidelines for Course Selection
A sound course of study requires careful planning. Students may therefore find it helpful to remember six important themes when choosing courses:

*Create a base of substantive knowledge by taking introductory courses in a number of core substantive areas. Such areas include:

Administrative Law
Business Law (i.e. Corporations, Commercial Law, and Intellectual Property)
Constitutional Law
Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure
Environmental Law and Land Use
Family Law
International Law
Labor and Employment Law
Professional Responsibility

*Develop specialized knowledge by taking a reasonable concentration of courses in areas of particular interest.

*Diversify the perspectives from which one studies the law by taking courses specifically designed to encourage broad thinking about law.

*Continue strengthening research and writing skills.

*Sharpen practical skills by taking clinical courses, trial practice, mediation, negotiation, appellate advocacy, advanced research and writing, and alternative dispute resolution.

*Fulfill course requirements for graduation and admission to the bar. This includes taking Constitutional Law II, Professional Responsibility, a course that satisfies the Perspectives on Justice and the Law requirement, the Lawyering Skills requirement and the upper level writing requirement.
Courses satisfying these requirements are listed in the Course Catalogue.

Students are also encouraged to discuss their course selections with their current professors and/or professors with expertise in particular areas of interest.

II. Course Offerings by Subject Matter
Any grouping of courses by subject is inexact. A subject-matter arrangement of course descriptions is attempted to give you an opportunity for a more organized glance at the curriculum than alphabetical list of course names permits. However, the interrelationships among areas of law are complex; rarely does an issue touch only on a single subject area. Please consult the subject descriptions below for a clearer picture of the full range of recommended courses in a particular field of interest. Note that not all courses suggested below are offered every academic year. The following course description section contains the offerings for 2014-2015.

A. Business Law: Commercial, Corporate, Labor and Employment, Taxation
This section provides some general advice about course selection for students interested in practicing business law. Although the advice provided here should be of general interest, the faculty recommends that students seriously interested in business law consult personally with professors about their particular course of study.

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Basic Courses
The faculty recommends that students gain exposure to general areas of law that consistently arise as part of modern business law practice. Accordingly, students are encouraged to take the following basic courses:

*Taxation I
*Commercial Law: Secured Transactions
*Intellectual Property Survey
*Employment Law
*Law and Accounting

The faculty also recommends that students interested in a corporate or corporate transactions practice also take Tax II and Securities Regulation.

Courses to Increase Depth of Knowledge
Students interested in particular areas of business law may develop expertise by selecting from the following additional courses. Students should be aware that a number of the courses listed here should be taken only after one or more of the basic courses listed above has been taken. Students should consult with individual professors about background needed for these courses.

Commercial Law and Bankruptcy
*Commercial Law: Payment Systems
*Business Bankruptcy
*Consumer Bankruptcy

*Corporate Finance
*Securities Regulation
*Mergers and Acquisitions
*International and U.S. Antitrust

Employment Law
Arbitration Labor and Employment
*Employee Benefits Law
*Employment Discrimination
*Employment Law
*European Labor and Employment Law
*Labor Law

Intellectual Property
*Trademark/Unfair Competition

International Business
*International Business Transactions
*International Trade

*Tax II (corporate tax)
*Estate and Gift Tax
*Estate Planning
*Trusts and Estates
*International Aspects of U.S. Income Tax
*Partnership: Transactions, Planning and Tax
*Tax III (advanced corporate tax)

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Advanced Theoretical and Practical Study
Students can complete their studies by taking advanced courses that provide practical experience or advanced theoretical study. These courses are designed primarily for 3Ls who have already taken other courses from the business law curriculum and may in some cases have explicit prerequisites.

*Securities Regulation Seminar
*Independent Study/Advising the Business Planner
*Intellectual Property Seminar
*International Arbitration
*Real Estate Transactions, Development and Finance

B. Clinical Education
Clinical education courses give students the opportunity to work on actual client matters under the supervision of a practicing attorney, a judge or a member of the faculty while learning about the ethical and practical dimensions of practicing law. The available programs offer a variety of settings and subject areas, and differing time and credit commitments. Many, though not all, fulfill the law school's upper level professional responsibility requirement.

Please note that the Massachusetts student practice rule allows third-year law students to represent indigent clients and government agencies in both civil and criminal matters, while second-year law students are limited to civil representation. The student practice rule requires that a student be taking or have successfully completed Evidence or Trial Practice. (The faculty has defined "successfully completed" as a grade of "C" or better.) Enrollment in all clinical courses is limited. An informational brochure on all of the clinical offerings is available from the Academic Services Office; information also appears on the web site at Clinical Education.

Clinical courses are those in which students perform litigation activities in the representation of actual clients. More information on these courses is available on the Academic Services web site in the section on Clinical Education and in the clinical brochure available from Academic Services.

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Clinical Courses
*Advanced Immigration Law Seminar
*Attorney General Program

*BC Innocence Project
*Civil Litigation Clinic
*Community Enterprise Clinic
*Criminal Justice Clinic
*Housing Law Clinic
*Immigration Clinic
*Judge & Community Courts
*Juvenile Rights Advocacy
*Judicial Process
*London Program
*Semester in Practice
*Semester in Practice: International Human Rights

C. Criminal Justice
All students should seriously consider taking courses in this area. Clients in civil matters often require advice about whether certain actions may bring exposure to criminal sanction. A background in criminal law is therefore valuable to all lawyers. The two basic offerings in this area are Criminal Law (which covers the substantive definition and treatment of crimes) and Criminal Procedure (which covers the constitutional limitations on criminal investigations). Advanced courses in this area include Criminal Law Seminar, Federal Criminal Law, White Collar Crime, Prosecutorial Ethics, Death Penalty, Criminal Procedure: Adjudication, Domestic Violence and Mental Health Law.

D. Dispute Resolution

1. Litigation
All students should seriously consider taking Evidence. Students interested in litigation practice will find the following division of available courses helpful in pursuing further study. "Traditional" courses focus on case law, statutes and rules which govern litigation: the "substantive" knowledge of a litigator. The teaching method is primarily analysis of cases and rules in a classroom setting. Evaluation is usually done by written examination.

Traditional - examples
*Advanced Civil Procedure
*Conflict of Laws
*Civil Rights Litigation
*Civil Motions Practice
*American Jury
*Federal Courts

Simulation courses emphasize the skills and activities of a litigator and the primary teaching methods are mock exercises and role playing. The teacher provides models and critiques student performances and work product.

Simulation - examples
*Trial Practice
*Advocacy Writing
*Trial Practice/Evidence
*Appellate Advocacy
*Family Law Practice

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2. Alternative Dispute Resolution
In recent years the legal system has come to rely to a greater extent upon dispute resolution mechanisms other than litigation. It is likely that any lawyer, whether in a litigation practice or not, will have occasion to participate in some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution procedures. Courses that offer exposure to these processes include: Arbitration; Dispute Negotiation; International Arbitration; Legal Interviewing and Counseling and Mediation.

E. Ethics
Understanding the ethical dimensions of legal practice is essential for a successful transition into the practice world. At least one upper-level course that satisfies the professional responsibility requirement must be successfully completed before graduation. A full list of courses that satisfy this requirement can be found here. Some courses, such as Professional Responsibility, offer a survey of the law of lawyering. Other courses, such as Moral Responsibility of Lawyers, Legal Ethics Seminar, Prosecutorial Ethics, and the clinics designated as satisfying the professional responsibility requirement provide an opportunity to explore fewer issues in context. Many of the perspective courses, such as Foundations of Western Law, Jurisprudence, do not satisfy the Professional Responsibility requirement but offer invaluable insights into the intersections of law and ethics.

F. Family Law
A student interested in practicing Family Law should start with the introductory Family Law course. Students in advanced study should also consider such courses as Parenting, Custody and Adoption, Domestic Relations Trial Practice or Family Law Practice, Taxation I, and Trusts & Estates. The student might also consider the Civil Litigation Clinic, as a significant portion of the problems handled at the Legal Assistance Bureau involves a range of domestic and family-related matters.

G. Intellectual Property
Students interested in technology, entertainment, and publishing will find this area of particular interest. Students interested in general business law should also seriously consider taking a course in this area as the increasing importance of technology makes intellectual property part of every business. The Intellectual Property Survey course is a good place to start. Students intending to practice in the area should take Copyright, Patent, Trademark/Unfair Competition, Sports Law, and Entertainment Law.

H. International and Comparative Law
The increasing globalization of society and the economy makes literacy in international law part of a modern lawyer's basic knowledge. In addition to the basic public international law course (International Law), offerings in the international and comparative field include: International Business Transactions; Foreign Relations; Comparative Law; International Trade; International Arbitration; International Environmental Law; International Human Rights; International Criminal Law; International Organizations; Law of War, War Crimes and Genocide; and the London Program.

I. Lawyering Skills
Numerous courses develop lawyering skills in the context of studying substantive law or simulating lawyering activities such as interviewing, negotiation, research, drafting and courtroom advocacy. Most of the course offerings that specifically focus on such skills as their primary emphasis are described in the sections on Dispute Resolution - Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution, Clinical Education and Research and Writing.

J. Legal History, Philosophy and Theory
Courses in Legal History, Philosophy and Theory are not only an essential component of the education of a lawyer as a member of a learned profession, but can also be among the most intensely practical courses for students who will be practicing law over a lifetime in which dramatic change in the legal system is a certainty. Students are encouraged to take at least one course that explains the moral, philosophical and cultural premises underlying legal doctrines and how such doctrines can best be shaped and applied to promote a more just society. Some of the courses that fit this description are: American Legal Education; American Legal History; English Legal History; Foundations of Western Law; Gender and Legal Theory; Health Law and Policy; Housing Policy and the Law; Law and Economics; Medicine and Public Policy; Jurisprudence; Moral Responsibility of Lawyers; and Modern Legal Theory.

K. Practice and Procedure
Whether or not one anticipates a career as a trial lawyer, all law students are well advised to pursue study of the litigation process beyond the basic coverage in the first year Civil Procedure course. Most students will want to take the Evidence course, and many will want to take other courses dealing with civil practice such as Conflict of Laws, and Federal Courts. Related courses, both civil and criminal, are described in the sections on Clinical Education, Criminal Justice, and Dispute Resolution.

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L. Property

1. Land Law and Environmental Law
This area of modern legal practice includes a number of courses related to land use, land transactions, and environmental and natural resources issues which typically involve land utilization decisions. The basic courses in this area are Land Use, Environmental Law, and a Land Transactions or Real Estate Finance course. Administrative Law is likewise a core course because this entire area is deeply affected by regulatory controls. An extensive variety of further electives is available, including commercial leases and other commercial real estate practice, regulation of hazardous materials, air and water pollution law, housing law, animal law, compliance counseling for corporate clients here and abroad, issues of environmental justice and more.

2. Estate Planning
To prepare for a concentrated practice in real and personal property and wealth transfers, a student should plan to take the following general courses: Trusts & Estates, Estate & Gift Tax, and Estate Planning.

M. Public Law: Constitutional, Administrative and Legislative
The major proportion of "law" in modern legal practice is today heavily weighted toward public law. Most functional law in virtually every area of practice is today dominated by rules made not by courts but by government agencies at all levels - local, state, federal, and even international. All law students should pursue sufficient studies in this area to feel comfortable with the processes of how regulations are created and implemented in the modern administrative state. At least one course should give students direct experience in how complex regulations can be interpreted and applied to corporate or individual clients. Among the course offerings in these areas are: Administrative Law; Immigration Law; Attorney General Program; Constitutional Law II; Food and Drug Law; Federal Government Contract Law; First Amendment and corporate and Commercial Speech Seminar; Regulation of Hazardous Materials; Air and Water Pollution Regulation; Compliance and Performance Counseling in a Global Economy; National Security Law, and State Constitutional Law.

N. Research and Writing
Upper level courses that emphasize research and writing are valuable because they encourage deeper understanding of material and build valuable professional skills.

O. Graduate Level, Law-Related Courses
A law student may take up to 12 credits of graduate level, law-related courses and apply those credits toward the student's law degree. Registration for these courses requires permission of each department. Those interested in taking a graduate level, law-related course should contact the Academic Services Office. Please note that, although graduate level, law-related courses will apply toward the 85 credits needed for graduation, only courses carrying an "LL" number in front of them will be included in the official law school GPA.

A complete listing of graduate courses is available at <>. Among the courses in other university departments that are of particular interest to law students is Education Law and Public Policy (LAWS7703).

When Courses are Offered
In applying the foregoing principles of course selection, students may also consider some principles by which the Law School determines course offerings.  While most courses are offered in one section each year, numerous courses are offered more sporadically, such as on an every–other- year basis.

From time to time as legal, social and economic developments warrant, the Law School develops new courses and terminates others.  For these reasons and general contingencies such as teaching coverage, students should appreciate that not all of the foregoing courses will be offered in the semesters or with the frequency mentioned and others may be added (including others being offered during 2014-15 that are not guaranteed to be offered in future years).  That said, this information may be useful in selecting courses.

First, required courses usually are offered in three or more sections each year.  For 2014-2015, these courses are Constitutional Law II and Professional Responsibility.  We generally try to offer such courses twice each semester but this is not always possible.  In addition, while many courses satisfy the upper level writing requirement, a number of courses focus on Advanced Legal Writing or Advanced Legal Research.  Multiple sections of these courses are offered each semester.

Second, some courses attract such large numbers of students that they usually are offered in three sections each year. Typically, these courses are Corporations and Evidence.

Third, some courses attract such significant numbers of students that they usually are offered in two sections each year. These include IP Survey, Criminal Procedure, Secured Transactions, Tax I, Trusts and Estates, Mediation and Negotiation.  Sometimes, courses that usually are offered in two annual sections are offered once per year.

Fourth, many courses of a specialized or advanced nature are of interest to smaller numbers of students and therefore are generally offered once every two years.  Offering some smaller enrollment courses once every two years allows the law school to maximize its curricular offerings in light of limited resources.  Based upon recent history and current expectations, the courses on an every other year schedule are set forth below.  These predictions may change based on availability of instructor.

Courses usually offered in academic years ending with an even number: American Indian Law; Art of Lawyering and the Commercial Lease; Church and State; Environmental Law: Clean Water Act; Comparative Health Law; Mental Health and the Law; and Sexuality and the Law.

Courses usually offered in academic years ending with an odd number: Admiralty Law; Compliance and Performance Counseling; Federal Government Contracts; Food and Drug Law; International Arbitration; Patent Litigation; Professional Responsibility: Prosecutorial Ethics; Seminar on Law and Higher Education; Public Finance; and White Collar Crime.



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