Thinking About Law School
Is there a standard law school curriculum?
Not exactly. But 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. Although law schools differ in the emphasis they give to certain subjects and in the degree to which they provide opportunities for independent study and clinical experience, nearly all law schools have certain basic similarities. 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 methods, legal writing and research, property law, and torts.
Most law schools share a common approach to the task of training lawyers. Many emphasize particular teaching methods, placing students in legal internships for academic credit, or using the government or legal resources of a surrounding community. 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.