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Future JD Students

Is there a standard law school curriculum?

Not exactly. But, whether the law school you choose is public or private, large or small, faith-related or independent, stand-alone or affiliated with a university, you will find that the basic curriculum focuses on certain skills required of all lawyers.

Lawyers must develop the analytical, creative, and logical reasoning abilities needed to analyze legal issues in light of the constantly changing state of the law and public policy. They must be able to advocate the views of individuals and diverse interest groups within the context of the legal system. They must be able to synthesize material that relates to multifaceted issues. They must give intelligent counsel on the law’s requirements. And lawyers must write and speak clearly and be able to persuade and negotiate effectively.

In nearly every state, a Juris Doctor degree from an ABA-approved law school is required for admission to the bar. Each ABA-approved law school provides basic training in American law sufficient to qualify its graduates to take the bar examination in all states. Most law schools require three years of full-time attendance, or four years of part-time study, if a part-time program is offered. Most law schools rely on the “case method” approach to teaching. First-year curricula usually include courses in civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and criminal procedure, legal method, legal writing and research, property law, and torts.

Beyond the first year, law schools may differ in the emphasis they give to certain subjects and in the degree to which they provide opportunities for independent study and clinical experience. A number of schools have developed specialized programs of instruction combining law with other disciplines such as business, public administration, international relations, science, and technology.

A legal education can also be excellent preparation for many other careers, because of both the framework for organizing knowledge it provides and the analytical approach it brings to problems.

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