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Curriculum

The UMass Law curriculum is the product of tradition and innovation. It combines a solid, comprehensive grounding in the subjects that form the traditional core of a legal education and a pervasive emphasis, based on the “best practices” movement, on teaching skills and values, both set in the larger context of the school’s mission to produce practice-ready citizen lawyers.

Two curricula are currently in place at the law school:

UMass Law Curriculum for students entering Fall 2011-2013

UMass Law Curriculum for students entering Fall 2014 and beyond

It is a curriculum designed to serve the needs of our students and thereby promote the school’s mission of graduating students who are prepared to pass the bar and practice law and who are motivated to make significant contributions to their communities and the legal profession in Massachusetts and beyond.

‌Core program requirements

  • ContractsJeremiah Ho Teaching
  • Property
  • Torts
  • Civil Procedure
  • Constitutional Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Legal Ethics
  • Evidence

Skills & writing requirements

Legal Skills Program

A three-semester requirement in Legal Skills uses an innovative approach that combines instruction in fundamental lawyering skills such as:

  • fact-gathering
  • legal research and writing
  • interviewing
  • counseling
  • oral advocacy
  • negotiation

The program has a significant simulation component, sometimes called the “law firm” model. Writing skills are embedded in the legal skills courses.

Upper-Level Writing Requirement

Students must also satisfy an upper-level writing requirement by writing a paper in an elective course or as an independent research project.

Distrubution requirements

There are three 'distribution' requirements:

Code Requirement

Students are required to take at least one course (three credits) in which the primary focus is on statutory (rather than case) law. Courses that satisfy this requirement include:

  • Sales Law
  • Payment Systems
  • Commercial Law
  • Secured Transactions
  • Federal Income Tax

Foundational Requirement

Students are required to take at least six credits of 'foundational' courses. Foundational courses include:

  • Business Organizations
  • Trusts and Estates
  • Administrative Law
  • Family Law
  • Any elective designated as a code course that is not used to satisfy the code distribution requirement

Practice Requirement

All students are required to take at least six credits of “practice” courses.  The courses that satisfy this requirement include:

In-House Clinics

  • Community Development Clinic
  • Advanced Community Development Clinic
  • Immigration Law Clinic
  • Advanced Immigration Law Clinic

Off-Site Clinics

  • Legal Services Clinic
  • Mashpee Wampanoag Legal Services Clinic
  • Criminal Prosecution Clinic

Field Placement Program

  • Field Placement Program
  • Coordinated Field Placement Program

Simulation Courses

  • Trial Practice
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice
  • Immigration Practice
  • Moot Court
  • Mock Trial
  • Probate and Juvenile Court Practice
  • Massachusetts Workers’ Comp
  • Land Use Regulation
  • Family Law Practice
  • Interviewing, Counseling, Negotiating, and Fact Investigation Practice
  • Massachusetts Probate Practice
  • Criminal Pre-Trial Practice

Effective for the entering class of 2014, three of the six practice credits must be satisfied through a clinical or field placement course, thus ensuring that all students have a real professional practice experience.

Bar preparation

Students are also required to complete the Bar Preparation course in their final semester.

Pro Bono Requirement

All students are required to volunteer the equivalent of at least one work-week of pro bono legal or law-related work under the supervision of a licensed attorney in a:

  • law office
  • government office
  • legal services organization or other non-profit organization

 

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