Our Curriculum

The Law School curriculum consists of over 150 courses covering everything from Criminal Law to Contract Drafting, from Energy Law to Evidence, and from First Amendment Law to Federal Income Tax. The first-year curriculum and upper-level required courses are designed to introduce students to the fundamental skills and knowledge necessary for legal practice. Beyond these courses, our curriculum offers scores of additional opportunities for student specialize in a particular area of law or instead survey different areas of interest. 

Courses & J.D. Requirements

General Requirements

The 87 semester hours necessary for graduation must include the successful completion of the following courses and requirements:

  • Sixty-four credits from courses that require attendance in regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction; such course will be explicitly identified as "Classroom Courses" by the faculty.

  • Six credits from experiential courses, which include simulation courses, clinics, and externships; such courses will be explicitly identified as "Experiential Courses" by the faculty.

  • The courses listed below as "Required First-Year Courses".

  • The courses listed below as "Required Upper-Level Courses".

  • A "Writing in Practice" course.

  • The "Upper-Level Writing Requirement" set forth below.

  • Required First-Year Courses

  • Required Upper-Level Courses

    • The following upper-level course is required in the fall after completing the first year.

  • Required Upper-Level Courses

    • One of the following upper-level courses is required:

      • LAWR-605 Professional Responsibility

      • LAWE-734 Professional Responsibility: Criminal Practice

      • LAWE-724 Professional Responsibility: Family Law

  • Writing in Practice Courses

    • One of the following upper-level courses is required:

  • Upper-Level Writing Requirement (ULWR)

    • During either the second or third year of law school, each J.D. student must satisfactorily complete a substantial paper requiring in-depth research of a specific area of law. The paper must evidence a sophisticated knowledge of the law and provide a rigorous, thoughtful analysis of an unsettled area of the law, issue of first impression, or other legal topic requiring substantial original thinking. A paper meeting this requirement will be at least 5,000 words in length, not including citations. Any paper approved by the professor may satisfy this requirement, as long as above criteria are met, but examples of a qualifying paper include:

      1. A scholarly paper.

      2. An appellate brief (including an amicus brief).

      3. A policy memorandum.

    • The paper must be written as part of a course or independent study of at least two credits, designated as ULWR on BannerWeb, and the paper must constitute a major part of the assessment in course. In addition, faculty must require certain input measures of student performance, including:

      1. Predrafting requirements (e.g., topic proposal and detailed outline).

      2. At least one full draft, on which the professor provides individualized feedback (e.g., one-on-one conferences, extensive written comments, etc.) that addresses both student writing and analysis.

      3. A final draft.

  • Second- or Third-Year Elective Courses

    • Note: A course in professional responsibility and the elective course Evidence must be satisfactorily completed by the end of the second year if the student wishes to qualify to appear in a Virginia court as a third-year student under the Third-Year Practice Rule. Students may obtain a Third-year Practice certificate after they have completed 56 credits, plus courses in Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, Evidence, and Professional Responsibility. This certificate allows a student to appear in some courts under the supervision of a licensed attorney.