Preparation for Practice

From your first day on campus you'll engage with an academic program proven to develop dynamic thinkers, leaders, litigators, and negotiators.

The Foundation

First-year students study traditional topics and complete classes emphasizing the sources of law, professional responsibility, and lawyering skills. 1L courses include Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Property, Torts, Criminal Law, Law Practice I & II, and Critical Perspectives: Law, Context, and Professional Identity.

Required Courses

Civil Procedure (4 credits)

Introduction to rules governing litigation, using the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Covers the entire sequence of events, from commencement to final disposition.

Constitutional Law (4 credits)

Introduces the concept of judicial review of legislation and executive action, focusing on federal powers and the interstate commerce clause.

Contracts (4 credits)

A look into what constitutes a contract, plus the various principles that govern contract enforcement. Emphasis on common law rules with attention to the statutory changes the Uniform Commercial Code imposes.

Criminal Law (4 credits)

The elements of crimes, defenses, and punishment. Covers the common law of crime and the Model Penal Code.

Law Practice I & II (5 credits total)

A problem-based curriculum that equips students with essential analytical, research, and written communication skills. Includes a fully integrated research curriculum, classroom discussion of analysis, and individualized feedback on predictive and advocacy memoranda assignments.

Property (4 credits)

Examines the substantive law of real property—including initial acquisition, property theory, the right to exclude, land use regulation, servitudes, conveyancing, landlord-tenant law, zoning, and takings.

Torts (4 credits)

Inspects non-consensual relations among individuals and emphasizes negligence law, the measure of damages, and newer developments like products liability.

Critical Perspectives: Law, Context, and Professional Identity (1 credit)

Introduction to a core set of critical perspectives that will give 1Ls the basic skills to begin to think deeply about the role of race, gender, identity, wealth, and power in the law, in the law school, and in their own professional formation.

First-Year Elective (3 credits)

Current electives may include:

  • Introduction to Administrative Practice
  • Introduction to Family Law
  • Introduction to Government Oversight
  • Introduction to Human Rights, Refugee, Humanitarian Law
  • Introduction to Immigration Practice
  • Introduction to Landlord Tenant Law
  • Introduction to Mental Health Law
  • Introduction to Municipal Law Practice
  • Introduction to Negotiations
  • Introduction to Practice in the Criminal Justice System
  • Introduction to Restorative Justice: Transforming the Law from Within
  • Introduction to Transactional Law
  • Jurisprudence


Ethics, Experiential Learning, and Specialization

After the first year, we push you to master professional responsibility and hone skills through advanced legal writing and experiential learning opportunities. More than 220 electives are offered, so you can focus on more specific areas of law as you prepare to launch a career.

With the following exceptions, all upper-level courses are electives.


Students must complete:

  • A professional responsibility course
  • A course satisfying the “Perspectives on Law and Justice” requirement
  • A course satisfying the Upper-Level Writing requirement
  • At least six experiential learning credits
  • A class covering lawyering skills may substitute for the experiential learning credits.

Class Formats

Instruction formats vary, from large, lecture-based classes to small seminars of 10–15 students.

Many classes qualify for the ABA experiential learning designation, in which students develop skills through simulation and other formats with faculty supervision. These classes include clinical programs, externships, and simulation courses on topics like mediation and tax law research. Some of these courses may occupy only a portion of a student’s semester schedule, while others are fully immersive—especially our various Semester in Practice externships in London, Washington, DC, The Hague, and other cities.

JD Degree Quick Facts


Electives after year 1

53 credit hours

Required of students during 2L and 3L years

85 credit hours

Minimum to graduate

Law library

Search our Curriculum

Our Fusion Search tool explores faculty, courses, experiential learning, and faculty publications. Or search the University course catalog to see what classes are being offered this semester.


Fusion Search Course Catalog

Helping Students Thrive

Our Academic Success Program (ASP) helps 1L students adopt learning strategies that lead to academic success, by assisting with classes and exam prep. ASP is open daily—no appointment required.


Academic Success Program