Our required first year curriculum includes Contracts, Torts, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, and Property, which are primarily substantive, and Civil Procedure, which is a procedural course. These subject areas are the foundation of most of the upper level courses and provide the legal concepts essential to an understanding of our legal system. The first year curriculum also includes courses that are primarily concerned with skills or methodology — Legal Research and Writing and Advocacy. All the courses, to some degree, involve both substantive knowledge and skills. Others, such as Constitutional Law and Criminal Law, also have major jurisprudential components.
Each first year student has at least two courses in the first semester in a small section of approximately 25 students — one substantive course and Legal Research and Writing. In the small section courses, personal attention by the professor and individual participation by the student are emphasized. Even in the other first year courses, however, classes rarely exceed 80 students and often are smaller.
All of the substantive courses are designed to assist the students in developing the skills of reading and analyzing cases: how and why the courts develop common law through the use of precedent, and interpret and apply statutes. These skills are essential not only to the lawyer but to the law student.
The first year curriculum also has students begin to learn the skill of advocacy and how to use case law and statutes in the preparation of written and oral arguments on behalf of a client. Problems used in both research and writing are drawn from the areas of substantive law covered in the first year.
All first year courses are required. The first year curriculum is as follows: