The course of study required of all students for graduation includes:
- Six semesters of 12 or more credits;
- Passing grades in all required courses;
- Participation in third year clinic or concentration;
- Good academic standing; and
- 91 credits.
To be in good standing a student must have a grade point average of 2.5 or above. For purposes of academic standing, a student's semester average, not cumulative average, is employed.
Second and Third Year Requirements
The first-year program totals 31 credit hours. Thus, to meet graduation requirements, you need to take and pass a minimum of 60 credits during your second and third years.
Second year required courses:
- Evidence and Lawyering in the Public Interest (Fall only, 4 cr.)
- Constitutional Structures (Fall only, 3 cr.)
- Property: Law and the Market Economy III (Fall or Spring, 4 cr.)
- Administrative Law: Public Institutions (Fall or Spring, 3 cr.)
- A Fourth Semester Lawyering Seminar (Spring, 4 cr.) Each year, we offer between six and eight fourth semester lawyering seminars, each focusing on a different aspect or area of public interest practice. Second year students will receive information about the Lawyering Seminar offerings next Fall.
In the third year, you must enroll in a clinic or concentration. Some of the clinics are one-semester 12-credit courses; others are two-semester courses counting for 8 credits in each semester. The concentrations are one-semester 12-credit courses. The clinic and concentration offerings vary slightly from year to year. Second year students receive information about the clinic and concentration offerings in the Spring.
General Program Planning Information
During the second and third years of law school, you need to decide:
- The timing (Fall or Spring) of your enrollment in Public Institutions and Property;
- which fourth-semester Lawyering Seminar best meets your educational and career objectives;
- which clinic or concentration to take;
- what elective courses to take and which semesters to take them;
- how many total credit hours to take in each semester.
Meeting with your academic advisor about your course selections can help to ensure that your course of study prepares you for the particular area of practice you plan to pursue and for the bar exam. Your advisor can help you to choose wisely from among the available lawyering seminars, clinics and concentrations, as well as to help you make your elective choices. If you take a 12-credit clinic or concentration, you will need to take 30 credits of elective courses. If you take a 16-credit clinic, you will need to take 26 credits of elective courses.
Choosing wisely can result in an academic program that enhances your academic experience, your employment opportunities, and your success on the bar exam. We recommend that you consider the following criteria in developing your program: courses that provide you with the doctrinal coverage necessary for the bar exam; courses that enhance the skills you need for the bar exam and for practice; courses that prepare you for the particular area of practice you plan to pursue; courses that enrich and round out your law studies, especially courses that will better prepare you for public interest practice; and courses that appeal to your interests and background and that will enable you to connect intellectually and emotionally to the study and practice of law.
Recommendations for the Bar Exam
Those of you who plan to take the New York bar exam should include most of the following electives in your academic program: Bar Prep Course (3L) (4cr.), Business Associations (3cr.), Criminal Procedure (3cr.), New York Practice (3L) (4cr.), Real Estate (3cr.), UCC Survey (3cr.), and Wills and Trusts (3cr.). (If you are planning to take the bar exam in another state, the New York focus of New York Practice, Wills and Trusts, and Real Estate makes these electives less useful for bar preparation.) New York Practice and the Bar Prep course are only offered for third-year students. Wills and Trusts and Real Estate are only open to students who have passed Property. We design the class schedules on the assumption that students will take Criminal Procedure, Business Associations and/or UCC Survey in their second year. You can take these courses as third-year students, but they are often scheduled against other recommended electives that can only be taken by 3Ls.
Second Year Specific Program Instructions
Two of your required courses - Property and Public Institutions - are offered both Fall and Spring. We expect most second year students to take one of these two courses in the Fall and one in the Spring. During the registration process, you will be asked to indicate your preference about the timing of these courses. Some students will take ISD, a course designed to reinforce fundamental legal academic skills, in the Fall and both Property and Public Institutions in the Spring. Enrollment in ISD is by permission of the instructor and will not be finalized until the first week of the Fall semester. Your registration form will include an opportunity for you to indicate your interest in this course. Since Property, Public Institutions, and ISD all meet at the same time, the final enrollment determinations of these courses should not affect your elective choices for the Fall.
There are a few courses that have prerequisites. If you plan to take these courses, the timing of your electives becomes an important concern. If you plan to pursue a career in criminal law, you should seriously consider timing your program so that you are eligible for the Defenders' Clinic in your third year. The Defenders' Clinic enrollment is limited to students who have applied for, been accepted into, and passed the Criminal Defense Lawyering Seminar in the fourth semester. (In other words, all students who pass the Criminal Defense Lawyering Seminar are automatically enrolled in the Defenders' Clinic.) Only those students who have taken and passed Criminal Procedure can apply to take the Criminal Defense Lawyering Seminar. If you want to be eligible for the Defenders' Clinic in your third year, you must have taken and passed Criminal Procedure by the end of the third semester. Thus, if you are considering applying for the Defenders' Clinic down the road, you should take Criminal Procedure either in the Summer between first and second year or in the Fall of your second year.
The Mediation Clinic also has a prerequisite. In order to be eligible you must take the Fourth Semester Mediation Lawyering Seminar. (You may not enroll in both the Summer Basic Mediation Training and the Fourth Semester Mediation Lawyering Seminar.)
For those of you who came to law school with a clear idea of what area of law you want to practice in, it makes sense to take one course in that area in your second year. Some courses are only offered once a year; others are only offered once every two years. International Law, Labor Law, Environmental Law, Rights of Low Wage Worker and Immigration Law are all once a year, Fall only courses that relate to areas of specialty expressed by many of you in your applications. Those of you interested in doing policy work after graduation should consider Legal History or Jurisprudence. Those of you planning to do community-based small firm practice should consider taking Property in the Fall so that you can take Real Estate or Wills in the Spring and be better prepared for an internship in a small firm next summer.
Grades and the Credit/Fail Option
All courses at the Law School (except ISD) will be graded using A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D, F. Our grading policy provides that a student may elect to take up to four elective courses (including ISD, Moot Court, and Law Review) as credit/fail courses. You will be notified at the start of each semester of the deadlines and procedures for exercising this option. Keep this option in mind as you choose the particular courses and total number of credits you plan to take in each semester. (Note: All grades other than F are recorded as "Cr." and are not used in the computation of your semester point average. If you receive an F in a Cr/F course, however, the course credits and value for your grade (0) are used in computing your semester point average.) Here are some factors you might want to consider related to the decision of whether to elect the credit/fail option: Keep in mind your individual career goals. Consider whether you want to be able to point to an "A" or a "B" in an elective course in a subject matter related to the area in which you want to practice. Transcript information provided to employers will include a description of the "Credit" grade as encompassing all passing work.
Assess your total workload for the semester to determine whether electing the "credit/fail" option for a particular course is likely to enhance the picture presented on your transcript or to detract from it. If "credit/fail" in one course gives you the space you need to do very well in all your other courses, this is certainly a relevant consideration. On the other hand, if you're likely to do well anyway, you may want leave things as they are. Think about whether there is a particular semester in which you will have a very heavy workload- either in courses, extracurricular activities, job search activities or in outside employment. You may want to be sure to save your credit/fail option for that semester. If you are considering electing credit/fail for a bar-related course, you may want to think about whether you will be motivated enough to have your work in that course translate into adequate preparation for the bar exam. Information will be available on this page in the future.