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:
The “Original Curriculum” is in place for students in the entering class of 2010.
The "Current Curriculum" applies to the students who matriculated in the fall 2011.
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
- Civil Procedure
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law
- Criminal Procedure
- Legal Ethics
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:
- legal research and writing
- oral advocacy
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.
There are three 'distribution' requirements:
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
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
In keeping with the school’s commitment to the necessity and value of putting knowledge into practice, the students are required to complete six credits of 'practice' courses that offer a variety of opportunities for independent work and internships:
- in civil legal clinics concerned with assisting low-income clients in a variety of civil matters, non-profit corporations in the community, and immigrants’ rights
- in a variety of law offices through an extensive clerking program
- in an international clerking program at the International Criminal Tribunal at the Hague (working as prosecutors, defenders, and with judges directly)
- in one-credit “mini-clerkships” linked to substantive law classes
- in internships with judges
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