After the mostly-mandatory courses offered in the first year, students in their second and third years get to choose from a wide variety of course offerings. Minnesota offers doctrinal courses in many different subject areas—students can take courses spread out over many areas, or choose to concentrate more in one particular area. The Law School currently offers formal concentrations in eight fields—Business Law, Criminal Justice, Environmental and Energy Law, Health Law and Bioethics, Human Rights, Intellectual Property and Technology Law, International Law, and Labor and Employment. Students can also take courses focused on building practical skills, including a wide array of Clinics where they can work with clients. The Law School also offers many seminars in which students can engage in deeper research on a focused topic, or take one of our capstone courses.
Below we group the courses offered by subject area. In addition to listing the courses offered within each area, we also give an overview of the area, how the courses in that area fit together, and how the courses in that area fit within various kinds of legal practice. Simply click on the arrows to the left of an area to see information about the courses in that area.
Analytical Methods/Law & Economics
There are several courses that draw upon analytical methods and economics. Analytical Methods provides training in basic tools such as economic theory, accounting, and game theory. The Law and Economics course provides an overview of leading developments in the application of law to economics. The Law and Economics Workshop features speakers presenting ongoing research in which they are engaged, and focuses every year on a different area of the law. Statistics for Lawyers covers a variety of basic statistical tools and shows how they have been applied to legal questions.
Business law refers to a wide range of law that regulates how businesses are owned and operated and how business is conducted.
Legal work in this area often takes the form of transactional work, advising businesses and assisting in their operations. Business law may also be the subject of litigation arising out of business organization and operations Transactional work can take many forms: negotiating contracts, working with businesses in bankruptcy, offering tax advice, and advising on deals such as venture capital financing, mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, or other securities offerings. Litigators may work on conflicts that arise out of any of these types of transactions.
The three primary categories of business law courses are Commercial Law, Corporate Law, and Tax Law. Follow the link to each area to see a more detailed overview as well as a listing and description of particular courses in that category. A complete list of courses, seminars, and clinics in Business law is included here. Although commercial, corporate, and tax sometimes constitute distinct areas of practice, it is advisable for anyone working within any one of these areas to have some knowledge about the other two fields.
In addition, the Law School offers a few courses that do not fall neatly into any of the three separate areas of Business Law, but which are still important for the practice of many business lawyers—see here. Chief among these are courses on antitrust law.
Capstone experiences are intensive course offerings that integrate doctrinal instruction with skills and professionalism training. The Law School offers two types of capstone experience—simulation capstones and policy development capstones.
More information http://www.law.umn.edu/current/capstone-courses.html
The University of Minnesota Law School offers J.D. students a concentration in civil litigation to help prepare them for the wide range of career opportunities enjoyed by litigators. Students in the concentration will learn and practice litigation skills through a plethora of hands-on experiential courses, and will enjoy exposure to a wide range of subjects pertinent to litigation, including evidence, jurisdiction, alternative dispute resolution, and choice of law.
Commercial law embraces the study of state and federal law that regulates interactions among economic actors such as consumers and businesses, creditors and debtors, holders and obligors, and buyers and sellers. There are trillions of dollars of transactions and relationships in the United States alone that fall within the purview of commercial law specialties such as real estate, sales, commercial paper, creditors' remedies/secured transactions, securitization and structured finance, bankruptcy, and insurance. Most practicing lawyers will find themselves and their clients significantly affected by these areas of the law. As a consequence, pragmatic lawyers often consider it important to have at least a basic understanding of these areas.
Lawyers who practice in the commercial law arena confront a wide variety of legal issues, that span both litigation and transactional practice as well as consumer and corporate law. For example, bankruptcy attorneys might advise multi-billion dollar entities in connection with their Chapter 11 reorganization, structure and formulate Chapter 11 reorganization plans, or litigate issues involving voidable preferences or fraudulent transfers. Others who practice bankruptcy law might work with consumers to resolve their claims with credit card companies, satisfy illness-related medical expenses, or maintain ownership of their homes. Another type of commercial attorney might work with clients to structure sale, lease, or other business transactions or draft contracts for complicated international sales of good or services and help structure the financing of those sales. Attorneys may represent lenders and creditors in connection with preparation and negotiation of loan documentation, as well as litigation that often follows the non-payment of indebtedness.
Courses, seminars, and clinics in the commercial law area are listed below. Those interested in the study of commercial law should consider at a minimum courses in Bankruptcy, Commercial Paper, Creditors' Remedies/Secured Transactions, Modern Real Estate, and Sales.
A variety of more specialized courses, seminars and clinics are also available for consideration by students depending upon their areas of interest. Those courses, seminars and clinics include the following:
Students with an interest in commercial law are also urged to enroll in the foundational corporate law course, BA/Corps. In addition, it would serve interested students well to consider more specialized corporate law courses such as Accounting for Lawyers, Federal Securities Regulation, and Corporate Tax. Finally, courses listed under headings such as Business Law, Intellectual Property, and Tax Law are often highly-relevant to those with an interest in commercial law.
The Law School's Constitutional Law courses cover a broad range of topics arising under both the federal and state constitutions. The courses touch on matters both timely and timeless. Students deal with contemporary hot topics like the scope of presidential power in wartime, affirmative action, abortion, and gay rights. Students also confront recurrent topics that have occupied courts and commentators from the earliest days of the nation, including the power of judicial review, the balance of power between the states and the federal government, the separation of powers among the three branches of the federal government, and the source and definition of rights.
The courses offer both intellectual and professional rewards. The competing theories of constitutional interpretation are interesting in their own right, as are the difficulties of applying these theories to actual cases. Gaining some understanding of constitutional law is essential to being a well-informed citizen and a well-rounded lawyer. Professionally, constitutional law is a critical subject for any student thinking about a career in government, either as a prosecutor, an elected representative or executive, or as an administrator. Certainly, students interested in public-interest legal work will need an understanding of the civil-rights and powers issues that arise in constitutional litigation. Even those inclined to a career in private practice will confront constitutional issues in everything from business litigation to criminal defense to intellectual property and bankruptcy.
The required first-year course, Constitutional Law I, covers the basic constitutional design of American government. This includes an introduction to judicial review, congressional power, federalism, and executive power. The required upper-level course, Constitutional Law II, introduces students to basic liberties protected by the federal constitution. This includes, depending on the instructor, substantive due process, the Equal Protection Clause, the Takings Clause, the First Amendment, and congressional power to enforce civil rights under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The more specialized upper-level courses cover many important topics. The First Amendment course is recommended for all of the professional and intellectual reasons discussed above, and is especially important for any student interested in the possibility of government employment or a media practice. The course gives detailed attention to the freedom of speech, including issues like protection for subversive speech, pornography, hate speech, and libel. Depending on the instructor for this course, it may also include coverage of student speech and speech by government employees. The freedom of association is also often covered. The religion clauses, including the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause, are addressed. For students with even more specialized First Amendment interests, courses in Election Law, Media Law, and Theories of Free Expression are occasionally offered.
Students interested in public-interest work are especially advised to consider the State Constitutional Law course, the Constitutional/Civil Rights Litigation seminar, the Voting Rights seminar, Indian Law, and the Privacy seminar. For those interested in criminal defense or criminal prosecution work, the Criminal Procedure course is essential.
Students thinking of representing gay and lesbian clients or who are simply interested in gay-rights legal controversies should take the seminar on Sexual Orientation and the Law, which is generally offered every other year. To take this seminar, the student is required to have taken Constitutional Law II and is recommended to have taken the First Amendment course.
Several courses analyze controversies involving the Constitution and balance of powers, especially in time of war. These include Congress and the President, the Constitutional Powers of the Presidency seminar, and the National Security Law seminar.
For those interested in the contrasts and similarities between the U.S. Constitution and other constitutions, the Comparative Constitutional Law course is occasionally available. Students interested in current controversies in constitutional law will want to consider the Supreme Court seminar, which considers a wide range of significant cases on the Court's current docket.
Corporate law includes the study of state and federal laws that regulate the formation, operation, and structures of different forms of business associations, such as corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, and the like. It also includes federal and state law that regulates capital markets and financial institutions.
Legal work in this area can take the form of either litigation or transactional work. Those doing transactional work may focus on advising public corporations or smaller businesses that are not traded in public markets. They may work on transactions such as venture capital financing, mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, or other forms of securities offerings. Litigators may work on securities class actions or on corporate law cases.
Courses, seminars, and clinics in the Corporate Law area are listed here [link]. Business Associations/Corporations is the basic gateway course in this area. It serves as a prerequisite for many other courses in the area, so those interested in taking a number of courses in the field should take it early in their time at the Law School, while those interested in just one corporate law course will generally make that the course they take.
After taking BA/Corps, those interested in further courses in the field can choose among three main extensions of that basic course. Advanced Corporate Law considers several topics not fully covered in BA/Corps, including capital structure, mergers and acquisitions, and hostile takeovers. Corporate Finance. . . Federal Securities Regulation covers the main elements of the two major federal securities laws, the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934. Another course that is strongly recommended for anyone interested in working as a corporate lawyer is Accounting for Lawyers.
A variety of specialized courses and seminars are also available in the Corporate Law area. Students are advised to pick and choose among these courses depending upon their particular interests. These courses include:
A unique opportunity for students in this area is the Multi-Profession Business Law Clinic, in which students provide legal services for start-up businesses. Working in the clinic provides a better sense of what transactional lawyers actually do than one generally can get from taking regular law school classes. Transactional clinics are still not terribly common, so this is a special option for Minnesota students interested in a transactional business law practice.
Several courses in other fields are also of particular relevance for students interested in working in the area of corporate law. Of particular importance are Taxation of Business Organizations and Partnership Taxation. Also of note are other courses listed under Taxation, courses listed under Commercial Law, and Antitrust, Intellectual Property, and International Business Transactions.
There are several lawyering skills classes that are of particular interest for those considering doing transactional work. These include Interviewing, Counseling & Negotiating, the Negotiations Seminar, Contract Drafting, the International Contracts Seminar, and Transactional Lawyer Skills. For those planning on doing corporate and securities litigation, there are a wide variety of relevant lawyering skills and doctrinal classes worth considering. These are described in the Litigation, Skills and Advocacy area description.
The legal, public policy, and practice issues which arise in criminal cases are dealt with in a variety of course offerings at the Law School. Approximately twenty courses, seminars, and clinics are exclusively devoted to the study of criminal justice issues, and a number of other offerings include substantial criminal justice content.
Three foundational courses address a broad range of criminal justice issues. The required first-year Criminal Law course examines general principles of criminal liability (required act and intent; affirmative defenses such self defense and insanity), and the purposes and limitations of criminal punishment. The Criminal Procedure course, taken in the second or third year, focuses primarily on federal constitutional limitations on police investigations, in particular, the Fourth Amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures; the Fifth Amendment privilege against compelled self-incrimination; the Sixth Amendment right to counsel; the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clauses; and the available remedies to enforce these protections (in particular, rules excluding evidence obtained by violating the protections). A second, foundational upper-level course, Criminal Process, examines other important issues of criminal procedure, including: prosecutorial discretion; decisions about bail and pretrial release; pretrial discovery of proposed trial evidence; grand jury and preliminary hearing procedures; speedy trial; double jeopardy; right to counsel, jury trial, and other important criminal trial rights; guilty pleas; and appellate review. Some of these issues are also covered to a limited extent in some sections of the Criminal Procedure course, so students may wish to enroll in one of those sections if they do not expect to also take the Criminal Process course.
Numerous advanced and specialized criminal justice courses, seminars, and clinics are offered at the Law School. The Juvenile Justice course examines issues of juvenile crime and crime policy, and the separate pretrial, trial, and sentencing systems applied to juveniles. Students may also take courses and seminars focusing on issues of advanced criminal procedure, capital punishment, comparative criminal procedure (how other countries and international tribunals handle these issues), criminal punishment (history, current practices, reform proposals), domestic violence, prosecution of international crimes, sentencing guidelines, sentencing policy (purposes; available alternatives), and wrongful convictions.
The Law School's strong clinical and skills training program includes many offerings which permit students to learn practice skills and deepen their understanding of law and policy in the context of criminal justice. Clinics focusing exclusively on criminal justice issues include: Criminal Appeals Clinic (second chair role, researching and writing defense appeal briefs in Minnesota state courts); Domestic Assault Prosecution and Domestic Felony Prosecution clinics (first and second-chair roles, respectively); Federal Defense Clinic (second-chair role, researching and writing in connection with federal felony cases); Innocence Clinic (second-chair research role); and the Misdemeanor Defense and Misdemeanor Prosecution clinics (first-chair pretrial and trial roles).
Several other courses, seminars, and clinics, while not devoted exclusively to criminal law and procedure, can be very useful as background for criminal justice courses and practice. These offerings include Child Advocacy Clinic; Computer Digital Evidence; Constitutional Litigation; Domestic Violence Clinic; Evidence; Federal Jurisdiction and Courts; Physical Evidence; Torture, Violence, War on Terror & Law Seminar; and Trial Practice.
Students should select from the preceding offerings in accordance with their interests and career plans. Most prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys are litigators, so students interested in those careers should focus on courses and clinics emphasizing trial practice skills, evidence law, and first- chair practice opportunities. Students interested in civil litigation will also benefit from taking these courses and clinics. Since federal criminal laws, white-collar crimes, domestic violence laws, death penalties, other sentencing laws, and international human rights issues are often highly complex, specialized courses, seminars, and clinics on those topics can be particularly useful to students planning to work in these areas.
Many offerings have announced course prerequisites (already completed) or co-requisites (completed or taken concurrently). Even where prior courses are not required as a pre-requisite or co-requisite, students should generally take the more basic elective courses (e.g., Criminal Procedure and/or Criminal Process) before taking a related advanced offering (e.g., Comparative Criminal Procedure or Criminal Appeals Clinic). Students planning to take a first-chair, live-client clinic (Child Advocacy; Domestic Assault Prosecution; Domestic Violence; Misdemeanor Defense) may wish to take Professional Responsibility first or in the same term. They may also wish to take Evidence, even if the latter is not listed as a course pre-requisite.
A well-rounded package of criminal justice courses would include, in addition to the three foundational courses, a mix of advanced and specialized offerings examining both theory and practice.
Employment & Labor Law
Employment and labor law addresses federal and state laws regulating the workplace, most frequently the employee-employer relationship.
Three foundational courses explore a broad range of workplace-related issues. Employment Law is a survey course that addresses a multitude of issues involving the individual employer-employee relationship. This course covers such issues as the employment-at-will rule and its many exceptions, pre-employment screening, wages and benefits, conditions of employment, workplace safety, unemployment compensation, and retirement. The Labor Law course, in contrast, examines collective workplace topics in the context of union-management relations. This course primarily focuses on three basic employee rights protected by the National Labor Relations Act: to organize, to designate a union representative to bargain collectively, and to engage in concerted acts such as strikes and boycotts. The third foundational course, Employment Discrimination, concentrates on substance and procedure under three federal anti-discrimination statutes: Title VII (banning discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin, and color), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Law School also offers a number of advanced and specialized courses including:
The Law School's strong clinical and skills training program includes further offerings in which students can learn practice skills and deepen their understanding of law and policy in the specialized context of labor and employment law. Students can bid to participate in the Wagner Moot Court program during their second year of law school. These students satisfy their second-year writing requirement by drafting a brief on cutting-edge workplace issues, while also honing oral argument skills in simulated appellate arguments. Third-year students serving as Directors in the Wagner program help supervise the work of second-year students and write their own briefs for and participate in an annual competition in New York. The Workers Rights Clinic provides a second unique opportunity. Students participating in the Clinic represent low-income workers in actual cases under the supervision of Clinic faculty. Top students in the Clinic may assume leadership roles as 3L program directors. Finally, the Law School sponsors a limited number of internships at regional offices of the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. Students participating in these internship programs have independent responsibility for investigating violations of law under the supervision of experienced government attorneys administering the principal federal labor and employment law statutes.
Several other Law School courses, while more general in subject matter coverage, are of particular relevance for students interested in the labor and employment law. These include:
Finally, law students may earn up to six Law School credits through a wide range of employment-related graduate courses offered by other University of Minnesota departments. Eligible graduate-level courses include:
Students desiring to demonstrate their interest and expertise in the field may satisfy the requirements for a Concentration in Labor and Employment Law. Qualifying students must complete at least 12 credits from a list of approved "required' or "recommended" Concentration courses as well as a significant writing and research component of at least 25 pages in length.
See Concentration requirements at: http://www.law.umn.edu/prospective/curriculum.html.
Environmental & Energy Law
The University of Minnesota Law School has a dynamic program in environmental and energy law. Our curriculum features courses that explore environmental regulation, land use, natural resources law, environmental litigation, environmental law aspects of real estate and corporate transactions, sustainability, climate change, and energy. Our sustainability clinic and environmental law capstone courses allow students to work closely with professors, practicing lawyers, nonprofit organizations, government officials, and others in the local and national environmental community on renewable energy and climate change projects, brownfields redevelopment, and land use planning projects.
Our Environmental Law Moot Court Team, active Environmental Law Society, and a newly-formed Animal Law Society give students the opportunity to bring speakers to the law school, participate in public service projects, and otherwise become active in environmental law-related activities both inside and outside the law school. Many students work as research assistants for professors in the field on cutting-edge legal research and thus can contribute to the academic dialogue on environmental, natural resources, and energy law. Moreover, students at the law school have the opportunity to take classes outside the law school for credit in related departments and institutes such as ecology, public policy, and become involved in the University's new Institute on the Environment, an interdisciplinary center for research and teaching.
Law students who specialize in the environmental and energy program go on to environmental or energy law-related careers in law firms; nonprofit organizations; federal, state, and local government agencies; offices of state attorneys general; and corporations. The law school easy access to the Twin Cities legal community, centers of state and local government, and nonprofit organizations means that the law school has been able create a mentorship program for students enrolled in the environmental law capstone course on brownfields redevelopment, where students are paired with both an attorney mentor and environmental consultant mentor to give students the opportunity to learn first-hand the nuances of environmental, natural resources, and energy law practice. This mentorship program is in addition to the valuable insights students receive from leading practitioners in the field who regularly teach as adjunct professors in the program. An alphabetical listing of courses that are part of the environmental and energy law program is listed below.
Students desiring to demonstrate their interest and expertise in the field may satisfy the requirements for a Concentration in Environmental and Energy Law. Qualifying students must complete at least 12 credits from a list of approved"required" or "recommended" Concentration courses as well as other requirements.
See Concentration requirements at: www.law.umn.edu/current/concentrations_environmentalandenergylaw.html
Family & Property Law
The sources of family and property law are universal institutions—the family and private property, respectively. Family law and property law are natural partners. They share common characteristics. These are found wherever and whenever there are people. The bodies of law governing each of these institutions have undergone significant change over centuries and across cultures. While each is now a thoroughly modern subject, neither has been completely revolutionized in our society. Both thus retain much of the old with the new, performing their modern tasks with some rules and concepts drawn from ancient ways of looking at social relations in an ordered society. This mix makes for uneasy tensions within each body of law and reveals conflict between the joint objectives of each: promoting stability while accommodating change. Both these bodies of law allocate and distribute resources, including wealth, power, and human capital. They thus bear in fundamental ways on central issues in present-day life. The student who studies them studies, as well, social history, social relations, and social reform.
In practice, family law and property law intersect and overlap. Families fight about property. Property considerations influence family arrangements. The lawyer who practices in these fields is called upon to deal with the problems of, and opportunities for, all kinds of families including even those who have no legal standing. The lawyer's task is to consider the assets of any group that thinks of itself as a family and arrange those assets to provide financial security for present members of the family as well as for those who will or may become family members in the future. The lawyer in these fields becomes privy to the client's personal and financial secrets and serves clients over a long span of time, ranging from birth to death and on to future generations.
Here at the law school we offer a variety of courses, clinics, and seminars dealing with these subjects. The sequence begins with first-year Property, a required course. In it, family and property law meet directly in the materials on future interests, which facilitate the intergenerational transmission of wealth, and in the materials on marital regimes—the economic rules and regulations society prescribes for married and unmarried families and the children they produce. The connections between family and property law show up frequently throughout the curriculum in other electives, most directly in the following:
A variety of other courses are also relevant to this area. These include Land Use Planning, Indian Law, Privacy Seminar, Sexual Orientation and the Law Seminar, Law and Economics, Employee Benefits, Tax (course and clinic), Alternative Dispute Resolution, Professional Responsibility, Environmental and Natural Resources Law, Intellectual Property, Development of Western Legal Tradition, International Human Rights, Indian Child Welfare Clinic, Health Law (course and seminar), Biblical Law and Jewish Ethics, Obligation to Life Seminar, Feminist Theory, among others.
Health Law & Bioethics
Category description under review.
Intellectual Property and Technology
The term "intellectual property" or "I.P." embraces several distinct but related bodies of law, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, and unfair competition law. As a general matter, patent law deals with exclusive rights in inventions; copyright in works of authorship such as literature, music, and software; and trademarks in source identifiers such as brand names. Unfair competition law encompasses the law of trade secrets, publicity rights, and several other business torts. Students with an interest in any or all of these bodies of law may select from a wide variety of course offerings.
Courses and seminars that are substantially devoted to the study of intellectual property law, broadly defined, include the following: Advanced Patents; Antitrust/I.P. Seminar; Art Law; Copyright; Cyberspace & the Law Seminar; Entertainment Law; Intellectual Property; Intellectual Property Moot Court; Intellectual Property Theory; Intellectual Property Transactions; International Intellectual Property; Patent Litigation Law and Procedure; Patent Prosecution Practice; Patents; Technological Protection for Authors; Trademarks; Trademark Practice and Prosecution; Traditional Knowledge; and Unfair Competition.
Students are advised to select from the preceding courses in accordance with their interests and career plans. Students who look forward to a career in general business law, for example, may wish to take the Intellectual Property course (which provides a basic overview of patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets), or perhaps Trademarks or Unfair Competition, to enrich their understanding of issues that are likely to be of growing importance to a general business practice. Students who expect to devote a substantial portion of their careers specifically to I.P. law may prefer to skip the general Intellectual Property course and to focus instead on the stand-alone courses in Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks, and other relevant advanced courses. Alternatively, a student who plans a career as a patent lawyer may decide to take all or most of the patent-related courses and the seminars, plus the general Intellectual Property course for basic coverage of copyrights and trademarks. Students interested in art, entertainment, or sports law, on the other hand, may wish to focus on Copyright, Trademarks, Unfair Competition, and other related advanced courses. As a general rule, students should take the more basic course (e.g., Patents) before taking a related advanced offering (e.g., Advanced Patents). Instructors may decide, however, that certain courses or seminars have other pre- or corequisites, at their discretion.
Students also are strongly advised to consider other more general courses or seminars that can be highly relevant to I.P. practice and policy, such as (depending on one's specific interests) Administrative Law, Antitrust, E-Commerce, Federal Jurisdiction and Courts, First Amendment Law, Food and Drug Law, Health Law, Law and Economics, Media Law, Privacy Law, Sports Law, and Telecommunications Law.
International & Comparative Law
The University of Minnesota Law School has a sterling national and international reputation for its teaching in international law. It has also a substantive and complimentary set of offerings in the comparative law field. In recent years that traditional reputation has been considerably augmented by the additional of new faculty in the international law field considerably extending the range and depth of courses and seminars available to students. At this juncture there is no mandatory requirement for students to take core international law courses in order to then enroll for specialized seminars or courses. However, faculty teaching in this area strongly recommends that students give serious consideration to taking core courses as a basis for extending and deepening the intellectual and learning experience that they take away from the specialized offerings.
International law includes both public and private international law teaching offerings. The Law School offers such core courses as International Law, International Trade Law, International Human Rights Law, International Business Transactions, and European Union Law. All of these courses are presently offered only to second and third year law students. Generally, all core courses are taught on a year-by-year basis (though not exclusively by the same faculty members). Seminars and specialized course offerings may not always be offered year after academic year, and are made rotationally available by the international law faculty.
Other course and seminar offerings include comparative constitutional law, developing nations seminar, European human rights law, immigration clinic, immigration law, international human rights advocacy, international humanitarian law, international law and the use of force, international intellectual property, international contracts seminar, international law moot court and Philip C. Jessup international moot court competition, torture, violence and the war on terror, and women's international human rights law.
In addition, the Law School's International Committee is considering a proposal to pursue a summer program which might augment international offerings with such courses as a basic course in international human rights law; humanitarian law; business and human rights; refugee law; and human rights and terrorism.
Students can take a number of pathways with respect to these course offerings. The international faculty recommends that all students should take at least one course offering during their law school studies that has an international dimension. We also strongly recommend that students take a comparative law course or seminar, allowing them to gain insights and knowledge of other legal system and/or the way in which other countries and legal systems regulate specific legal domains such as constitutional or criminal law. For students interested in transactional work and corporate practice a relevant course might be international business transactions. For students interested in specialization in the tax field, international tax law might be a useful compliment to domestic law courses. For students who might wish to work for an international organization or for a firm with a strong international profile, courses from both the private and public offerings would be relevant. A number of the course offerings reflect legal interface with key political and legal developments of the contemporary moment (see e.g. use of force or international humanitarian law). For students who wish to ensure that their legal studies also give them a broad legal perspective and knowledge concerning contemporary legal and political issues such specialized courses / seminars may be of particular interest.
Students with a particular interest in human rights should note that they can gain a concentration in human rights law at the law school by completing 12 credits from approved "required" or "recommended" concentration courses. Student wanting to gain the concentration must also take at least one course, seminar or independent study that requires a significant writing or research component. Further details on the lists of required and recommended law courses can be found at http://www.law.umn.edu/uploads/images/3022/Concentration_in_Human_Rights_Law.pdf
Journals and Moot Court
Students at Minnesota have the opportunity to earn credit for work done while editing a variety of student-run law journals. For a description of law journals edited at Minnesota, see http://www.law.umn.edu/journals.html
Law Clinics, Capstone Courses & Lawyering Skills
The Law School offers an unusually wide number of opportunities for students to work with real clients through its extensive clinical offerings. For a description of the clinical program, see http://www.law.umn.edu/clinics/index.html
While history has always had a presence in American law schools, the field of legal history has been dramatically reinvigorated in the last quarter century, with the growth of interdisciplinary studies examining law in relation to society and culture rather than simply tracing its internal developments. The Law School offers a range of courses that reflect this set of scholarly innovations. They are designed not only to provide insight into the historical dynamics between law and social/cultural change, but also to provide instruction in the ways history figures in legal argument-the use made of historical materials and methods in the work of the lawyer, past and present.
The Law School's course offerings, listed below, provide a basic grounding in the subject and also enable students to explore specific topics or periods in greater depth. A general survey course in American Legal History traces the evolution of central ideas, institutions, and events from the Revolution through the New Deal Era. There are also two seminars that focus on significant cases in American legal history, as well as a number of others that address particular subjects, such as Women's Legal History and the Concept of the Person. In addition, there is a Legal History Workshop that features an array of prominent scholars working at the intersection of law and history. These guest speakers present works-in-progress or recently published books that range across geographical regions and time periods, exhibiting various methodological perspectives.
These curricular endeavors are all part of a broader scholarly initiative, the University of Minnesota's Program in Law and History. Established in 2007, the Program's mission is to support the study of law in its historical context, doing so by bringing together scholars and students from the University and around the world to foster teaching and research in all areas and periods of legal history. In addition to the Workshop, the Program sponsors the Erickson Distinguished Lecture in Legal History, an annual event featuring some of the most prominent legal historians in the country. Funding opportunities through the Program are also available to students undertaking substantial research and writing projects.
Litigation, Alternative Dispute Resolution & Advocacy
A substantial percentage of University of Minnesota Law School graduates will engage in litigation or alternative dispute resolution during their careers, or will act as advocates for their clients (or for causes) in some way. Courses designed to develop lawyering and advocacy skills can be divided into four types: (1) doctrine courses directly related to the judicial process; (2) skills courses; (3) live client clinics; and (4) externships.
1. Doctrine Courses
First year Civil Procedure provides the building blocks for all courses related to the judicial process. Students interested in a litigation practice of any type then should consider the following courses focusing on frequently encountered matters of law: Evidence, Remedies, and Conflicts. In addition, Alternative Dispute Resolution should receive serious consideration by students interested in either litigation or general advocacy.
The following courses can best be characterized as advanced civil procedure classes. Civil Procedure II is an elective that expands upon the First year course, and addresses in more detail such subjects as personal jurisdiction, subject matter jurisdiction, class actions, and Finality of judgements. Students likely to encounter class action litigation in their intended careers, such as those interested in securities or antitrust law, may additionally want to enroll in the Complex Litigation Seminar. Students interested in litigating in areas dominated by federal law also should consider the courses in Federal Jurisdiction and Federal and State Courts.
Several upper level courses combine study of specific substantive areas with a focus on litigation concerns related to that subject, including Federal Tax Procedure, Mass Torts, Products Liability, and Patent Litigation Law and Procedure. Other courses that may be considered by students interested in learning about the details of the litigation process are Judicial Process and Administration, and Learning the Law. The Learning the Law seminar is a unique course in which students discuss how a case should be decided based solely on the facts of the case, without reference to the governing law.
2. Skills Courses
Several upper-level courses provide training in specific skills relied on by practicing attorneys. Skills courses usually involve both classroom and simulated exercises, such as a mock interview, deposition or trial. These courses often are taught by adjunct professors. The University of Minnesota is fortunate to have a superb adjunct faculty that includes prominent federal and state court judges and litigators.
Basic Lawyering Skills Courses. The course on Interviewing, Counseling and Negotiating is appropriate for any student intending to engage in litigation or non-litigation advocacy, including students intending to pursue careers involving primarily transactional work. The Negotiations Seminar course focuses on this one set of skills that also is critical for most practicing attorneys.
Litigation Skills Courses. A series of litigation skills classes are best understood in terms of the chronology of a lawsuit, as follows:
Pretrial Skills carries the student from complaint drafting through discovery to the eve of trial. Depositions is a simulation course focused on this important pretrial discovery tool. These classes will be helpful to all students interested in litigation, and are likely to be immediately relevant for students who expect to work in a large firm litigation practice, public or private.
Trial Advocacy (and Advanced Trial Advocacy) is appropriate for any student interested in litigation and highly recommended for students planning to work as a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney or a civil attorney likely to experience substantial trial work, such as a lawyer involved in personal injury suits. Art of Appellate Advocacy will be of interest to students intending to represent clients in appellate work or planning on an appellate judicial clerkship.
3. Live Client Clinics
The University of Minnesota Law School offers one of the nation's largest live client clinical programs. Most interested students have the opportunity to enroll in one of the 18 available clinics at some point during their Law School experience. The differences in the substantive area of work for the clinic should be obvious from the course title and description. Beyond the substantive law differences, the clinics offer different types of experiences in which the student can integrate theory and skills.
Students most interested in appearing in court, and possibly handling a trial, should consider enrolling in one of the criminal law clinics, including Domestic Felony Prosecution, Misdemeanor Prosecution Misdemeanor Defense, Federal Defense and Domestic Assault Prosecution, or the Housing or Domestic Violence clinics, which also involve more frequent court appearances. Many of the civil clinics offer fewer courtroom experiences but typically include more drafting of pleadings and a longer-term relationship with clients, including Bankruptcy, Civil Practice, Consumer Protection, Immigration, Tax, Special Education Child Advocacy, and Indian Child Welfare.
The Innocence Project is a criminal appellate clinic.
Externships provide students with the opportunity to work on projects involving placements outside the law school. The Judicial Externship will prove useful for students interested in any aspect of litigation or the judicial process. The Public Interest Law externship is especially useful for students with an interest in poverty law issues or employment legal aid.
This curricular area includes courses that examine all or some parts of the law from the perspective of a particular disciplinary methodology or that of a particular social group. This area includes courses that that build on the methods of other areas of study, such as history, philosophy, literature, and so on. It also includes courses that focus on how the law affects a variety of particular groups, such as women, racial and ethnic minorities, lesbians and gay men.
There is no natural order in which to take the courses, for the most part, and no one course serves as a prerequisite for other courses within the field. That said, two courses do provide a broad introduction to a variety of the perspectives covered by this field. Jurisprudence surveys a variety of major conceptual approaches to the law, although it is particularly concerned with the application of ideas and methods drawn from philosophy to foundational legal questions. Perspectives on the Law brings together professors who research in several different perspective areas to show how their areas apply to a variety of legal questions.
Several courses other than Jurisprudence explore philosophical topics as applied to specific areas of the law. The Philosophy of Law and Punishment seminar considers broad philosophical issues as they arise in the criminal law. Judicial Process and Administration provides an overview and critical examination of the judicial process. The Rule of Law seminar examines the concepts and core principles of the Rule of Law.
Several courses in this area consider the intersection of the law with various issues in the natural sciences. These courses include Health Law; the Health Law seminar; and the Law, Biomedicine, and Bioethics seminar. The other main type of course in this area focuses on understanding the law from the perspective of various groups within society. American Indian Law and the American Indian History seminar examine the law related to American Indians. Critical Feminist Theory examines the law using feminist theory. Biblical Law and Jewish Ethics examines legal issues within the context of Jewish tradition and texts. Poverty Law and Poverty Law II analyze a variety of laws that especially affect people living in poverty. Sexual Orientation and the Law examines areas of the law that affect the regulation of sexual orientation.
Professional Responsibility is offered as General, Business Ethics, Government Ethics and Civil and Criminal Litigation Offerings.
"Public law" refers to law defining the relationship between the state and individuals, or between states. It is a broad and loosely-defined category, and there is much debate about what areas of law fall within it. Two important areas within public law are constitutional law and criminal law. The Law School's offerings in those two areas are described separately.
Public law is set within constitutions, treaties, statutes, and administrative regulations. Thus, one part of the public law field is learning how to interpret these sources of law. For more on constitutions and treaties, see the field descriptions for Constitutional Law and International and Comparative Law. The Statutory Interpretation course explores general principles for interpreting statutes. Administrative Law explores the general rules and principles governing the creation and interpretation of government agency rules and regulations. The Advanced Administrative Law seminar explores advanced issues in this area. Local Government studies some of the rules governing lawmaking by governments at the local level. The Public Law Workshop involves faculty from Minnesota and other law schools presenting scholarly papers that they are currently writing, giving students a chance to observe the scholarly process.
The other courses listed under the Public Law heading fall into several categories. Some courses explore various questions of judicial and administrative process. These include Federal and State Courts, Federal Jurisdiction and Courts, Judicial Process and Administration, the Legislative Process Seminar, and the Rule of Law Seminar.
Other courses listed below allow for study in a variety of substantive legal areas that fit within the rubric of public law. These areas include Indian law, civil rights, election law, health law, poverty law, national security law, and water law, among others.
Tax law studies at the Law School cover a wide range of international, U.S. federal, and state statutes, regulations, rulings, cases, and concepts that govern taxpayers and provide all levels of government with the funds that they need to function.
Legal work in this area covers a wide range of matters including transaction planning, general compliance, and tax controversies. Transactional and compliance work involves advising taxpayers on how to structure their affairs to both minimize their tax burdens and comply with the tax laws. Tax controversy work involves tax enforcement matters before federal, state, and local taxing authorities and in the courts.
Courses, seminars, and other programs in the Tax Law area are listed here [link]. Tax I is the basic gateway course in this area. Tax I covers basic income tax principles with an emphasis on the federal individual income tax laws. Students who are interested in taking just one tax law course will generally make Tax I the course they take. For those interested in taking a number of tax courses, Tax I serves as a prerequisite for most other courses in the area. Regardless, all students should consider taking Tax I early in their Law School career, as this course can be useful in appreciating and understanding many non-tax courses including Business Organizations and upper-level business law courses, Wills and Trusts, Creditors' Rights, and Family Law.
After Tax I, the Law School offers several specialized tax courses, seminars, and other programs. Corporate Tax and Partnership Tax cover federal tax laws and concepts governing entities other than individuals and are particularly recommended for students considering careers in business or transactional law. Estate Planning presents the principles of transfer taxation, is useful for those interested in transactional work with closely-held businesses, and is essential for anyone who plans to work in the area of trusts and estates law. Federal Tax Procedure, the Tax Clinic, and judicial externship opportunities with the Minnesota Tax Court provide exposure to issues in federal and state tax controversy practice. Other advanced tax offerings include International Tax, State and Local Tax, and a Tax Policy seminar.