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Curriculum: Part-time J.D. Program

Students enrolled in the part-time evening division of the Juris Doctor program receive the same quality of theoretical and practical legal education as the full-time student body. They enjoy a curriculum which includes hands-on training in the School of Law’s Legal Clinics, Externship Program and Community Service Program. Part-time students benefit from UDC-DCSL’s outstanding and experienced attorney-professors and scholars. Required courses and clinics are taught by full-time faculty members.

The First & Second Year: Basic Knowledge and Skills

Student at courtFor part-time students, the first two years combine traditional classroom course work with practical training in basic lawyering skills. Students study the basic substantive areas of torts, contracts, criminal law, and civil and criminal procedure. These courses, combined with the required substantive law courses in the third and fourth year, provide the basic foundation of principles, doctrines, concepts, cases, and rules needed for a successful career in law.

In addition, during the first year, students are required to take Lawyering Process I and II, a series of intensive practice skills courses that focus on legal reasoning, including case analysis, case synthesis, and statutory analysis; legal research and problem solving; and the fundamentals of a basic tool in the practice of law: legal writing. In the Lawyering Process courses, students learn how to help link knowledge of the law with skills needed to apply that knowledge effectively. They also learn about the legal system and the role of lawyers within it.

The required "first-year" curriculum of the part-time division will take two years (including one summer) for each student to complete. The courses totaling 30 credits are:

  • Civil Procedure I and II (6)
  • Contracts I and II (6) and Lab (0)
  • Criminal Law (3)
  • Criminal Procedure (3)
  • Law and Justice (1)
  • Lawyering Process I and II (4)
  • Legal Research (1)
  • Torts I and II (6)

The sequencing of "first-year" and upper-level courses will depend on the year of matriculation. In addition to the required first-year courses, students in the part-time division may take Property I and II (6), Constitutional Law I and II (8), Evidence (4), Moot Court (2) and/or Professional Responsibility (2) in their first two years of study.

For example, a student enrolling in Fall 2015 would have the following schedule for the first two years:

Year One

Fall 2015

  • Civil Procedure I (3)
  • Criminal Law (3)
  • Law and Justice (1)
  • Lawyering Process I (2)
  • Legal Research (1)

Spring 2016

  • Civil Procedure II (3)
  • Criminal Procedure (3)
  • Lawyering Process II (2)
  • Professional Responsibility (2)
Year Two

Fall 2016

  • Constitutional Law (4)
  • Contracts I (3)
  • Torts I (3)

Spring 2017

  • Constitutional Law II (4)
  • Contracts II (3)
  • Torts II (3)

The Third and Fourth Years: Clinical Practice and Specialization

In the third and fourth years of the part-time program, each student has multiple opportunities to combine classroom learning in more advanced and specialized areas with the actual practice of law under the supervision of faculty members. Students have the freedom to select various combinations of elective courses, to choose two different clinical experiences, and to elect to participate in an externship.

After completion of the "first-year" curriculum (two years for part-time students), students can design their own schedules, taking any combination of required, core and elective courses that will lead to completion of the required course of study within a total of 5 years. By following the model schedule (which appears in the Student Handbook) or accelerating with summer courses, part-time students will be able to graduate in a total of 4 years. Students may also transfer into the full-time program after completing the required first-year curriculum. Those students could complete the degree requirements in 3 ½ years, including two summer semesters.

Required courses in the third and fourth years, if not already taken, are:

  • Clinic I & II (14)
  • Constitutional Law I & II (8)
  • Evidence (4)
  • Moot Court (2)
  • Professional Responsibility (2)
  • Property I and II (6)

Plus at least three "core" courses:

  • Administrative Law (3)
  • Business Organizations I (3)
  • Business Organizations II (3)
  • Commercial Law (UCC) (4)
  • Conflict of Laws (3)
  • Family Law (3)
  • Federal Courts (3)
  • Federal Tax (3)
  • Remedies (3)
  • Wills and Estates (3)

The School of Law also draws upon legal expertise in the Washington area by offering elective courses such as:

  • Advanced Criminal Procedure (2)
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (3)
  • Employment Discrimination (3)
  • Environmental Law (3)
  • Gender & Sexual Orientation Law (2)
  • Immigration Law (3)
  • International Human Rights (2)
  • Mass Communication Law (2)
  • Race and the Law (2)
  • Trial Advocacy (4)

Upper-level part-time students will normally take 25 credits in the third year, including summer courses following the fourth semester. They will normally take 22 credits in the fourth year, including summer courses following the sixth semester.

For example, a student enrolling in Fall 2015 might have the following schedule for the third and fourth years:

Year Three

Summer 2017

  • Core or Elective (3)

Fall 2017

  • Evidence (4)
  • Moot Court (2) or Elective (3)
  • Property I (3)

Spring 2018

  • Clinic I (7)
  • Property II (3)
Year Four

Summer 2018

  • Elective (2)

Fall 2018

  • Clinic II (7)
  • Core or Elective (3 or 4)

Spring 2019

  • Core and/or Electives (10 or 11)

Like full-time students, part-time students will be required to complete two 7-credit legal clinics after completion of the first-year curriculum. As students advance through the Clinical Program, they acquire and refine skills in trial advocacy, client interviewing and counseling, negotiation, legal research and drafting. More broadly and more fundamentally, they develop their capacities as lawyers in the major competency areas of oral communication, written communication, legal analysis, problem solving, practice management, and professional responsibility.

The School of Law currently offers nine clinics:

Typically, one or two clinics are offered during the Summer semester and all nine clinics are offered during the Fall and Spring semesters. Because the clinics differ in the type of legal work typically performed, e.g. some focus on legal research and drafting while others require regular court or agency appearances, some clinics will be better able than others to accommodate the schedules of part-time students who work full-time during the day.

 

Descriptions of all the courses mentioned above are available in the Course Catalog.

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