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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

What follows is some advice to bear in mind as you construct a course of study for the upper level curriculum.  Nearly all your credits taken in the 2L and 3L years will be elective except for the required Constitutional Law II and the Professional Responsibility survey course (LAWS219); this course is the only course that will satisfy the one-course professional responsibility requirement.

Of your electives, you will need courses that qualify for the following distribution requirements: “Perspectives on Justice and the Law”, “ABA Upper Level Writing “and “Lawyering Skills”.  Lists of the courses satisfying these latter three requirements are available at registration.

Students in the upper level curriculum must maintain a per semester enrollment of 12-17 credits to maintain their full-time student status.   You need a minimum of 85 credits to be graduated from Boston College Law School.  If you started here as a first year student,  you should have earned 33 credits your first year, which means you have 52 credits remaining for your 2L and 3L year.  This works out to an average of 13 credits per semester, though you may take more or fewer in any given term.  In your second and third years combined you must have at least 32 credits from in-class courses at the law school – and these 32 credits cannot include any of the following:

(1)  Semester practice and other externship credits (other than those for the seminar portion)

(2)  Law review credits and Moot Court credits

(3)  Independent Study credits

(4)  London program – the practice portion credits or credits for courses taken at Kings College from their general curriculum

(5)  Credits from dual degree classes not taken at the law school

(6)  Classes taken at other parts of the university or at other non-law schools or institutions.

With the consent of the Office of Academic Services, 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.  Grades for courses taken in other BC departments (and at Boston University School of Law) will appear on the student’s transcript, but will not be calculated into the law student’s GPA.  All courses taken outside of Boston College and the consortium (BU) will appear as transfer credits only.  Neither the course title nor grades will appear on the BC transcript.

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
International Law
Labor and Employment Law

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

*Diversify the perspectives from which you study the law not only to satisfy the perspectives requirement but also by taking courses specifically designed to encourage broad thinking about the law.

*Continue strengthening research and writing skills.

*Sharpen practical skills by taking clinical courses, trial practice, mediation, negotiation, appellate advocacy, advanced research and writing, alternative dispute resolution and other courses that wiill teach you specific lawyering skills necessary to prepare for the successful practice of law.

*Fulfill course requirements including the required course on Professional Responsibility, for graduation and admission to the bar.

We encourage you to discuss your course selections with your advisors, your current professors and professors with expertise in particular areas of interest.   You  should also look at the National Conference of Bar Examiners website ( to determine what subjects are tested on the MBE, and what subjects will be tested on  individual state bar exams.  Most jurisdictions also mandate the taking of the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination [M.P.R.E.] as a prerequisite for sitting for a bar exam and for admission to practice law.  Finally, some jurisdictions limit the number of “clinical” or co-curricular credits that may be applied toward a law degree.  Information about these and other bar admission requirements is available at <>.

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 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. More detailed information about specific courses is available on-line.

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

Those interested in a corporate or corporate transactions practice should 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
*Banking Law
*Business Bankruptcy
*Consumer Bankruptcy
*Insurance Law
*Law of Money

*Corporate Finance
*Securities Regulation
*Mergers and Acquisitions
*International and U.S. Antitrust
*Mutual Fund Regulation
*Venture Capital Finance

Employment Law
*Employment Discrimination
*Employment Law
*Employee Benefits
*Labor Law

Intellectual Property
*Trademark/Unfair Competition
*Technology Transactions and Licensing
*Patent Litigation

International Business
*International Business Transactions
*International Trade
*Globalization and International Economic Development
*International Arbitration
*International Aspects of U.S. Income Tax

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

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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
*Corporate Governance Seminar
*Business Negotiation
*Deals: The Economic Structure of Transactions
*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.  

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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Experiential Learning: Clinics and Field Experiences

Experiential 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.

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 (who have completed successfully the 1L year) 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.  Information on all of the clinical offerings is available from the Academic Services Office; information also appears on the Academic Services web site at “Clinical Education.”

Clinical courses are those in which students perform litigation or transactional activities in the representation of actual clients.  Externship courses are those in which the students assist practicing lawyers in representing clients (such as providing support) or observe judges in litigation.

*Attorney General Program
*BC Innocence Program
*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. The Professional Responsibility course (LAWS2910) must be successfully completed before graduation. Other courses, such as Moral Responsibility of Lawyers, Legal Ethics Seminar, and Prosecutorial Ethics, provide an opportunity to explore fewer issues in context. Many of the perspective courses, such as Foundations of Western Law, and Jurisprudence 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, 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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