Curriculum

UMass Law's curriculum reflects a combination of tradition and innovation, combining subjects that form the core of a comprehensive legal education with an emphasis on skills and values based on best practices—all within the context of our mission to educate lawyers prepared to pursue justice. 

Curriculum guides & checklists: see Student Forms & Handbooks

Core program requirements

  • Contracts‌
  • Property
  • Torts
  • Civil Procedure
  • Constitutional Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Evidence

Skills & writing requirements

Legal Skills Program: A 3-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
  • collaboration
  • problem solving

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.

Distribution requirements

There are 3 "distribution" requirements:

Code requirement: Students are required to take at least 1 course (3 credits) in which the primary focus is on statutory (rather than case) law. Courses that satisfy this requirement include:

  • Commercial Law
  • Secured Transactions
  • Federal Income Tax

Foundational requirement: Students are required to take at least 6 credits of "foundational" courses, which 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 6 credits of "practice" courses, which include:

In-House Clinics

  • Community Development Clinic
  • Advanced Community Development Clinic
  • Immigration Litigation Clinic
  • Advanced Immigration Litigation Clinic
  • Human Rights at Home Clinic

Off-Site Clinics

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

Field Placement

  • Field Placement
  • Advanced Field Placement

Simulation Courses

  • Trial Practice
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice
  • Probate and Juvenile Court Practice
  • Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation
  • Land Use Regulation
  • Family Law Practice
  • Interviewing, Counseling, Negotiating, and Fact Investigation Practice
  • Massachusetts Probate Practice
  • Criminal Motion Practice
  • Appellate Advocacy
  • Real Estate Transactions

Effective for the entering class of 2014, 3 of the 6 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 1 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.

More information

Credit Hours Policy 

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