Law School Basics

  • Law school for most full-time students is a three-year program. Students are called 1L (first year), 2L, 3L. 

  • A Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree is considered to be a general degree. You do not choose a law school major.

  • First-year students are usually divided into sections of 50-150 students who take all 1L classes together.

  • The first year typically includes a set of required courses including: civil procedure; constitutional law; contracts; criminal law and procedure; legal method; legal research and writing; property law; and torts (non-criminal acts that violate civil obligations).

  • The second year is usually comprised of courses where most students choose to focus on the courses needed to prepare for the bar exam.

  • The third year most students continue with courses preparatory for the bar exam together with several free choices that they may use to develop an area of emphasis. They may also take courses that meet their interests and diversify their knowledge or practical experience.

  • Many law school classes have only one test per course per semester - typically a 3-4 hour essay exam.

  • Case Book Method: A teaching method where instead of synthesizing previous judicial opinions (cases), law books present case summaries and students analyze the relationships/implications.

  • Socratic Method: Lecture method utilizing an exchange of questions and answers to reveal concepts (still used in most law schools in a modified style).