Real Estate Law Curriculum

The University of Richmond School of Law has a strong, and growing, real estate curriculum. Our real estate curriculum includes several courses focused specifically on real estate law, as well as a number of courses that bridge other curricular areas, including environmental law, contract law, and local government law. Our graduates have taken their training into a variety of practice settings, from large national law firms to smaller firms and government and regulatory practices.

Introductory Course

All students take the introductory Property course in the fall semester of their first year. This 4-credit course explores concepts of title and possession of personal and real property, historical background of real property law, contracts, deeds, and mortgages in the sale of land, recordation and title examination; covenants, easements, and licenses in the use of land.

Upper-Level Electives

After taking the introductory course, students considering a real estate practice can choose from a number of upper-level electives. These electives include:

  • Land Use Planning: This 2 or 3 credit course provides students with an overview of governmental controls over real estate, including urban redevelopment and planning, eminent domain, zoning, subdivision control.
  • Real Estate Transfers and Finance: This 2 or 3 credit course provides students with practical teaching regarding real estate transactions. The course covers topics with real-world applicability, including cooperatives, sales and leasebacks, condominiums, leasehold mortgages, FHA and VA financing, tax consequences, title insurance, construction loan agreements, and shopping center leases.
  • Environmental Law: This 3 credit course addresses contemporary issues in environmental law through the lenses of ecology, property, politics, economics, and ethics. Students will confront issues such as how law regulates private economic activity, how it allocates scarce resources, and how it weighs the interests of future generations. They will examine the interaction of Congress, federal agencies, the states, and the courts in developing and implementing environmental law, and it will explore the diverse and conflicting perspectives of your potential future clients (environmental groups, government agencies, and businesses).
  • International Environmental Law: This 2 credit seminar, which is typically offered every other year, explores how the international community has managed environmental problems through treaties and lawmaking institutions. Students will examine the growth in international environmental law since the 1990s, exploring how general norms of international law manifest themselves in the environmental field.

Electives in Other Areas

Students interested in real estate law should also consider taking related courses in other curricular areas. These courses include Local Government Law, Contract Drafting, Administrative Law, Corporations, Federal Income Tax, Secured Transactions, Bankruptcy, Energy Law, and Insurance Law. We also recommend that students interested in a real estate practice take Contract Drafting as their Law Skills IV course.

Clinical Opportunities

Students interested in real estate law may want to consider participating in the Clinical Placement Program. Placements where students may find opportunities to work on real estate matters include Southern States Cooperative, the Virginia Community College System Counsel’s Office, and various environmental agencies.

Dual Degree Program

Students obtaining a law degree from the University of Richmond have the opportunity to obtain a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning. This dual degree program integrates two professional curricula to provide students with the necessary expertise to apply legal and planning analysis to the resolution of urban and regional policy issues and problems. Some areas of cooperation include the development and enforcement of land use and growth management controls, environmental protection strategies, housing and community development, and numerous health and welfare programs.

The dual degree is a four-year program of study designed to equip graduates for a variety of professional positions including staff or legislative committees, government agencies and commissions, private consulting, neighborhood advocacy, directorships of planning and related agencies, and executive or legal aids to elected officials. Applicants for this program are required to meet the admission standards of both the law school and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at VCU. When the four-year program is successfully completed, the Master of Urban Studies and Regional Planning degree is awarded by Virginia Commonwealth University. The J.D. is awarded by the University of Richmond.