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First-Year Curriculum

Flexible, Innovative and Designed for the Future

Throughout its 125 years, the Law School has been a pioneer in curricular innovation. Today, the Law School continues to adapt and improve to meet the needs of our fast-changing world. In pursuit of the highest quality legal education, the University of Minnesota Law School's first-year curriculum includes the core common law courses taught at most law schools but also significant new classes focused on our students' futures.

The first-year curriculum offers:

  • Increased training in interpreting statutes, the main source of law in the contemporary world.
  • The new Law in Practice, a unique required course in the second semester of the first-year. The course is designed to help students apply their growing knowledge of legal doctrine to the practice of law. The course combines "law firm" classes taught by full-time faculty with simulations in small "practice groups," led by adjunct faculty who are practicing attorneys. The course is designed to give students an advantage for their first summer work experience and to accelerate learning in the second and third year. Importantly, the course includes both litigation and transactional case files.
  • Wider choices beyond the required classes, allowing students to explore civil procedures, corporate law, international law, or leading scholarly approaches to understanding the law. (see section below entitled "Students also choose one of the following")
  • A series of lectures and panel discussions exploring the many ethical issues that can arise for practicing lawyers.

Class of 2016:

First-Year Requirements* (32 total credits):

Civil Procedure I: 4 credits (Fall)
Constitutional Law I: 3 credits (Fall)
Contracts: 4 credits (Fall)
Criminal Law: 3 credits (Spring)
Elective (Civil Procedure II, International Law, Corporations, OR Perspectives on the Law): 3 credits (Spring)
Property: 4 credits (Spring)
Legal Writing: 1 credit (Fall)
Legal Writing/Statutory Interpretation: 3 credits (Spring)
Law in Practice: 3 credits (Spring)
Torts: 4 credits (Fall)

Second-Year Requirements:

Constitutional Law II 3 credits (may be completed during 2nd OR 3rd year)
Professional Responsibility 3 credits (may be completed during 2nd OR 3rd year)
Second-year writing requirement:
(either Journal or Moot Court)
Credits vary (Fall/Spring split)

Third-Year Requirements:

Constitutional Law II 3 credits (may be completed during 2nd OR 3rd year)
Professional Responsibility
3 credits (may be completed during 2nd OR 3rd year)
Third-year writing requirement:
(through qualifying seminar, Independent Research paper, journal editorship, or moot court directorship)
Credits vary

Students also choose one of the following:

Civil Procedure II (3 credits). This course analyzes the rules determining the persons and topics over which different courts have jurisdiction, as well as topics in complex litigation and the Erie doctrine, which prescribes circumstances when federal courts should follow state rather than federal law.

International Law (3 credits). This course is an introduction to international law, examining the sources and history of the law of nations, and concepts of jurisdiction and conflicts of jurisdiction of nation states.

Corporations (3 credits). This course examines the basic state and federal legal rules that define the governing structure of corporations.

Perspectives on the Law (3 credits). Team-taught by three faculty members who study the law from differing perspectives, this course exposes students to some of the leading current approaches to understanding the law and encourages them to reflect critically upon the role of law and lawyers in society.