First Year Curriculum

Students in class

Getting Started

The first year of law school is when the foundation for a student’s legal education is solidified. It’s where students begin to develop legal skills, including legal research and writing and oral arguments. Through frequent professor-student interaction, students learn the fundamentals of law and are introduced to the analytical skills needed in for upper-level courses.

During the first year, students are required to take the following:

Civil Procedure: In this course, students will learn the process of civil litigation from start to finish. Topics covered include pleading, joinder of parties, discovery, territorial and federal subject matter jurisdiction, the Erie Doctrine, conduct of trial, jury selection and instruction, verdicts, judgments, and appellate review.

Contracts: This course introduces students to all aspects of contract law. It covers contract formation, consideration, formal requirements and other aspects of enforceability, interpretation, effects of unforeseen circumstances, express and implied conditions, contract remedies, rights of third parties, and quasi-contract.

Criminal Law: This course examines the functions and development of criminal law, including elements of criminal culpability, excuse and justification, theories of punishment, and specific crimes and defenses as defined by the interaction of statutes and common law. The criminal law’s jurisprudential focus on responsibility and on the translation of social values into legal obligations provides an important foundation for the study of law.

Property: This course introduces students to property concepts. Topics covered include concurrent estates, landlord-tenant law, contracts, fraud, equitable conversion, and conveyance by deed. Other issues covered include adverse possession, title covenants and title insurance, the creation, scope, and termination of easements and covenants affecting land. Some attention is paid to regulation of the use of land, nuisance, zoning, subdivision, regulation, and eminent domain.

Torts: This course presents broad coverage of common law and statutory principles governing compensation for personal injury, property damage, and other harm. Depending upon the professor, specific areas of study may include intentional torts, negligence, wrongful death, worker’s compensation, liability related to animals and abnormally dangerous activities, products liability, nuisance, misrepresentation, defamation, and privacy.

Constitutional Law: This is a survey constitutional law course. Among other things, it covers judicial review of constitutional issues, the allocation of power between the state and federal governments, the separate branches of the federal government and individual liberties protected under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses.

Research, Reasoning, Writing, and Advocacy (both semesters): These classes provide students with foundational, practice-oriented and skills-focused instruction. The course meets in small class sections and fosters active learning with opportunities for self-evaluation and feedback. Working both individually and in teams, students learn the fundamentals of legal reasoning, research, and writing, primarily by simulating important aspects of law-office work.