We believe that the first year of law school should be a time to develop an understanding of how law works within a society.
Civil Procedure: Students learn the principal elements of the civil litigation process, including elements of a fair procedural system, jurisdiction over parties, phases of a lawsuit with an emphasis on pleadings, discovery and pre-trial adjudication, subject matter jurisdiction, the effects of prior adjudication, complex litigation, and alternatives to formal adjudication.
Constitutional Law: This course introduces students to constitutional law, providing a foundation for more specialized courses on the Constitution and for public law courses generally. It explores the theory of the Constitution and its antecedents; judicial review, in terms of its justification and development, as well as its legal and political significance; the nature of our federal system, the growth of national power and of limitations on state authority, and the abiding significance of the states; the separation of powers and varieties of checks and balances in the U.S. government; and the theory and content of individual rights under the Constitution, the development of the principal rights over 200 years by Constitutional amendment and judicial interpretation, and the jurisprudence of the judiciary in its role as the guardian of rights under the Constitution and under civil rights acts.
Contracts: An introductory course in contract law, this course focuses on consideration and other bases for enforcing promises, the bargaining process including precontractual liability, the requirement of a writing (statute of frauds), policing the bargain for unfairness, remedies for breach of contract, performance and breach, and failure of basic assumptions (mistakes, impracticability, frustration). Other topics that are explored are within the context of construction contracts, contracts for the sale of goods, contracts for the sale of land, employment agreements, family agreements, and other significant types of agreements.
Criminal Law: Often viewed as a device for controlling socially undesirable behavior, criminal law, its major problems, and its administration are explored in this course, with an emphasis on the issues that necessarily arise in the formation and application of a satisfactory penal code.
Foundation Year Moot Court: As part of the requirement for the Legal Practice Workshop, each student is required to write a brief and argue the case orally. The Foundation Moot Court requirement may alternatively be met by satisfactory participation in an equivalent intramural moot court competition, upon prior approval of the faculty director of the Moot Court Program.
Legal Methods I and II: This intensive course, which runs for two weeks beginning in mid-to-late August and continues for one additional week in January, serves as an introduction to legal institutions and processes and the skills necessary for professional interpretation of case law and legislation. Incoming law students are indoctrinated into the sources, forms and development of Anglo-American law, the analysis and synthesis of judicial precedents, the interpretation of statutes, the coordination of judge-made and statute law, and the uses of legal reasoning.
Legal Practice Workshop I: Offered in the fall, this course provides intensive training in the research, writing, and analytical skills needed in legal practice through written assignments placed in practice contexts, seminar discussions, and personal conferences.
Legal Practice Workshop II: A continuation of the research, writing, and analysis skills built in Legal Practice Workshop I, this course emphasizes appellate advocacy. Students research, write, and argue an appellate brief through the Foundation Year Moot Court program or one of the alternative intramural competitions.
Property: A central social institution, property law poses fundamental questions about efficiency and fairness that are mediated through the legal system. This course examines the nature of ownership, government regulation, and the legal devices for allocation and development of land resources. The evolution of today's questions -- ownership of music, control of body parts and of endangered species, and rights to spectrum, among many others -- are considered, applying traditional legal concepts.
Torts: In this introduction to the different bases of tort liability, the various functions of tort law, and the relationship of tort law to other legal areas, students investigate noncontractual wrongs for which private compensation is sought under the common law, including negligence, strict liability, intentional torts, defamation, and the right of privacy.
First-Year Elective: First-year students are able to choose one elective course during the spring semester. Recent offerings have included:
For detailed course descriptions, please refer to our Curriculum Guide.
- Administrative Law
- American Legal History
- Antitrust and Trade Regulation
- Commercial Finance
- Constitution and Foreign Affairs
- Critical Legal Thought
- Empirical Analysis of Law
- Family Law
- Federal Income Taxation
- Global Constitutionalism
- Human Rights
- International Law
- Labor Law
- Law and Development
- Law and Neoliberalism
- Law and Contemporary Society
- Lawyering for Change
- Transnational Litigation