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Curriculum Planning

Choosing Your Curriculum 

Course descriptions are posted at http://law.newark.rutgers.edu/students/master-course-list. While the following information is primarily for students who are just beginning the upper-class curriculum, primarily students in their 2L class year, it also should be useful to students in their 3L class year. Part-time, evening students in their 1L class year might also pay some attention to this advice when beginning to make curricular choices in the Spring semester.

Required Curriculum
Graduation Requirements
Choosing Elective Courses

The Required Curriculum

The required courses are: Contracts, Property, Torts, Legal Research and Writing I & II, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Civil Procedure and a first-year elective. (In addition, students must successfully complete either Professional Responsibility or Legal Profession and the writing requirement to graduate, but the writing requirement and Legal Profession cannot be completed before the required curriculum is completed.)

Part-time students must take Contracts and Torts in the first semester; Criminal Law, Civil Procedure, and Legal Research and Writing I in the second semester; and Legal Research and Writing II in the summer between their first and second years. The balance of the required curriculum is completed by part-time students in their second year (see below). Part-time students in the first year (and the Fall semester of the second year) have their program set by the law school administration; there are no choices of courses or sections permitted during this period.

Full-time students complete the required curriculum in the Fall and Spring semesters of the first year of law school. Once full-time students have opted for “late track” or “early track” in the Summer before starting law school, their program for the first year (except for the selection of the first-year elective in the Spring semester) is set by the administration. Sections for first-year full- and part-time students are established by the Deans’ Office. Students may not enroll in any section of any course other than the section assigned, and changes in sections cannot be made without the permission of Dean Rothman, which is rarely granted, and only in extraordinary circumstances.

Although full-time students will generally complete these required classes in their first year of law school, and part-time students will complete all but the first-year elective in their first three semesters, under certain circumstances students will not have successfully completed all of the required classes as planned. In those cases, you must take such class or classes the next time it is offered at the law school. Such circumstances occur when a student:

  • has received a grade of “F” in a required course;
  • did not take a required course when it was first offered to his/her class (as when the student was out-of-residence during that semester);
  • has been required by the Committee on Scholastic Standing to repeat a course;
  • has transferred from part-time to full-time status before completion of the required curriculum;
  • has transferred from full-time to part-time status before completion of the required curriculum; or
  • has transferred from another law school that did not permit the student to take one or more such courses before transferring.

If this applies to you, you must plan your course selection around completion of the required curriculum, and must have your proposed program of study for this semester approved by the Deans’ Office. (Only certain sections of required first-year courses are open to upper-class students. You must secure prior permission to register for these courses. Please speak with Dean Garbaccio to obtain the section, course, and registration numbers for these courses.) Permission to defer taking a required course when it is next given may be granted only by Dean Rothman.

Students who delay complying with these requirements may be closed out of their preferred sections of upper-class and required courses. Students who do not register for a required course which they must complete may be dropped from one of their elective courses and reassigned to a section in the required course.

Graduation Requirements

As you know, there are few absolute requirements that you must meet after you have completed the required curriculum.

  • First, you must take a course in professional ethics (if you have not done so already): either the three-credit Professional Responsibility course or the two-credit Legal Profession course. A grade of C or better in either course excuses those taking the New Jersey Bar Exam from taking the Multi-state Professional Responsibility Exam (“MPRE”).
  • Second, you must satisfy the upper-class writing requirement, by either: (1) writing a paper of 25 pages (7000 words) or more of critical legal analysis in a seminar, independent study, or other academic enterprise, (2) successfully completing a clinic in which substantial writing is required, or (3) writing a brief in a moot court or mock trial competition or advocacy course, in which you are the sole author. Jointly authored works cannot be used to satisfy the writing requirement, even if permitted by the instructor for accountability in the course. Note that writing is a critical skill for lawyers, so doing writing beyond that necessary to meet the minimum requirement is advisable.
  • Third, students must take at least 60 credits in “professional law subjects,” defined as regularly scheduled classes and seminars offered by the law school (or, in the case of transfer students, by another law school).  Credits for the following enterprises DO NOT count toward fulfilling this requirement: clinics, work on journals, participation in moot court and mock trial competitions, independent research, work as a teaching or research assistant, externships or field placements, and classes taken in disciplines other than law (even if taken at another unit of the University).
  • Fourth, you must successfully complete 84 credits of coursework (which includes credits you received for your required first-year courses and your first-year elective). Of these, a minimum of 75 must be “hard” credit. (A full explanation of what is “hard” credit and what is “soft” or “unscheduled” credit can be found by clicking here.)
  • Fifth, you must also earn six residency points (including those you earned in completing the first-year curriculum). Please refer to the Student Handbook for the calculation of residency points.
  • Sixth, you must complete a minimum of one “skills” course from this list of courses.

In addition to the above requirements, please note students who have a first-year GPA lower than 2.67 must submit their curricular choices for review and approval to Dean Andrew Rothman. The requirement was adopted by the faculty in the fall of 2006 to help ensure that students who have performed poorly in their first year take a curriculum that adequately prepares them for the rigors of the bar examination. If Dean Rothman approves it, you will be notified by email before the start of classes. If he does not approve it, he will advise you to schedule an appointment during the first week of classes.