First-Year Curriculum

The J.D. Program’s first-year curriculum provides an essential foundation for subsequent legal study. First-year students take three required courses in the Fall semester as well as Legal Research and Writing (202.1A). In the Spring semester, they take one required course and Written & Oral Advocacy (202.1B). Beginning with the class entering in Fall 2020, the four required courses are Civil Procedure, Contracts, Criminal Law, and Torts (previously, Property was also a required 1L class). In addition, we strongly recommend that first-year students take Constitutional Law, 220.6 (4 units), during the Spring semester of their first year. This course is a graduation requirement and first-year students will be given priority registration during the Spring semester. Also in the Spring semester, first-year students must enroll in 14-16 units and may choose other elective courses from the upper-division law curriculum. First-year students are not permitted to earn credit in the 295-299 series of courses, which includes journal work and faculty-supervised research writing and study. Of the courses taken in the first year, most are taught in classes of 60 to 120 students, and one is taught in a small section of 30 to 35 students.

Required first-year J.D. courses

Civil Procedure

This course covers the main stages of civil litigation in the trial court, including pleading, discovery, summary judgment, jury trial, motions for judgment as a matter of law, joinder of parties and claims, and claim and issue preclusion. Constitutional limits on territorial jurisdiction, federal subject-matter jurisdiction, venue, and choice of federal vs. state law (the Erie doctrine) are also included.


This course covers the law of contracts, including formation, performance, remedies, and termination.

Criminal Law

This course is an introduction to criminal law with primary emphasis on the general principles of criminal liability.


This course covers the law of civil injuries, including both intended and unintended interference with personal and property interests, as well as liability without fault.

Legal Research and Writing (202.1A) – FALL

This course provides instruction in legal research, analysis, and writing.

Written and Oral Advocacy (202.1B) – SPRING

This course involves preparing a brief for a trial court motion on a hypothetical problem, and arguing that motion before a panel of specially trained second and third-year law students who serve as judges.

Recommended first-year J.D. course

Constitutional Law 220.6 (4 Units) – SPRING

All entering first-year students are required to take 220.6 Constitutional Law (4 units) to graduate. This course provides an introduction to judicial review, the role of the Supreme Court in our constitutional system, congressional power and federalism, and the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. We recommend that J.D. students take this course during the Spring semester of their first year and will give them priority registration at that time.