Columbia Law School’s vibrant academic environment offers abundant support and educational resources.

From your first day in Legal Methods to your last day in an upper-class seminar, faculty and administration are here to advise you every step of the way. These guidelines will help you prepare for your first semester of classes.

The Foundation Curriculum is the same for all first-year J.D. students.

You will be assigned randomly to a block of required courses in both the fall 2020 and spring 2021 terms. Each of the sections will be linked to the others, allowing your instructors to coordinate their syllabi and provide a comprehensive first-year program. In addition, sharing classes with a consistent group of students will help you get to know your classmates and give you the opportunity to establish study groups.

Note: first-year students may not register for additional classes in the Law School, in any other division of the university, or at other institutions.

Fall 2020 

  • Legal Methods I
    • Legal Methods I is a time-honored Columbia Law School tradition (dating back to 1944) that offers an intensive introduction to case analysis—from learning how to read cases and statutes to writing case briefs. You will take most of your foundational courses with the classmates you meet in this course. Your Legal Methods I placement not only introduces you to law school pedagogy but also provides you with a “house” where you can build lifelong friendships with other students.
  • Legal Practice Workshop I
  • Civil Procedure (all students)
  • One of the following sets of courses (subject to change): 
    • Contracts and Property
    • Contracts and Torts
    • Constitutional Law and Torts
    • Constitutional Law and Property
  • Legal Practice Workshop I (continued)

Spring 2021 

  • Legal Methods II
    • You will register for one of the Legal Methods II options in mid-October.
  • Legal Practice Workshop II
    • Legal Methods II builds upon the Legal Methods I introduction, exposing you to perspectives in different areas of the law. You will have the opportunity to choose which section of Legal Methods II you take, depending on your intellectual and professional interests.
  • Foundation Year Moot Court
  • Criminal Law
  • You will be assigned to one of the following groupings, depending on which courses you took in fall 2020 (subject to change):
    • Constitutional Law and Torts
    • Constitutional Law and Property
    • Contracts and Property
    • Torts and Property
  • First-Year Elective
    • You will register for one elective in mid-October.

Information on where to purchase books locally will be available online later this summer.

Assignments for the first day’s meeting of your courses, including Legal Methods and Legal Practice Workshop, may be posted on your section’s CourseWorks page. Your instructors may also email you shortly before the first class with information on assignments and required books. 

You are expected to attend and be prepared for all classes, beginning with the first meeting of Legal Methods.

Regular attendance is generally defined as attendance at 80 percent of class sessions, although an instructor may establish stricter attendance requirements.

The quality of your preparation and in-class discussion participation may be considered by the instructor—without special notice—in determining your course grade. If you have excessive absences in a course, academic credit cannot be earned, and a final grade of “failure” may be recorded.

Please make sure you read the Law School exam information section, which includes details on the anonymous grading system, examination regulations, taking exams on a laptop or writing them by hand, and more.

All first-year exams are scheduled to allow one or more days between exams. Please do not make travel or any other plans that might pose an exam conflict during any exam period, as exams can be rescheduled only for the reasons stated in the examination regulations.