The First Year

The first-year curriculum is the foundation of legal study. Students learn about common law and statutory law in private and public law areas. UW Law is a collaborative learning environment where students are encouraged to seek a deep understanding of legal principles, develop analytical and problem-solving skills and engage with the legal community.

Required first-year courses:

Section sizes for each course vary. Small sections provide opportunities for more individual expression by the student for a closer teacher-student relationship and for more feedback on individual projects. One of the small section courses will be Legal Analysis, Research and Writing.

First-year students take a year-long course in Legal Analysis, Research and Writing. First-year students typically take Torts and Civil Procedure during Autumn quarter; Contracts, Property and Introduction to Perspectives on the Law during Winter quarter; and Constitutional Law and Criminal Law during Spring quarter. Upon completing the first-year program, students are well-prepared for a summer job in a law office or an externship in judicial chambers, a governmental agency or a public service organization.

First-year students also take a course called Introduction to Perspectives on the Law. This course explores critical perspectives as a method of understanding common law to provide necessary context for black letter law. Placed within the first-year curriculum, the course provides a basic framework for analyzing the relationship between race, class, gender, sexuality and the law to support students as they deepen their ability to represent and counsel clients from diverse backgrounds and personal identities.

The Second and Third Years

After the required first-year program, students are required to take: Administrative Law, Business Organizations, Evidence and Problems in Professional Responsibility during their second or third year. The candidate must also satisfy the Residence, Public Service, experiential and Advanced Writing requirements. All J.D. students must also take one Global Law and one Perspectives distributional course. All other second-year and third-year courses are elective, making it possible for students to design programs that best suit their interests. A wide range of alternatives, cutting across many fields of law, is available.

A Full Range of Curricular Offerings

In addition to classroom courses focused on teaching rules of law, several other types of curricular offerings are available, including:


Seminars permit small groups of students to engage in extended discussions with a faculty member and to write research papers on a subject of current interest. The seminars available in any particular year will depend on the interests of students and a faculty member in a specific area of research. They may extend from one to three quarters. Students may also earn credit for individual writing and research projects performed under the supervision of a faculty member under LAW E 500 and LAW 600.

Experiential Coursework

Students may develop lawyering skills in courses providing simulated experiences, such as:


Our extensive clinical offerings provide UW Law students with valuable experiential training to prepare them for real-world legal challenges. Learn more about the Clinical Law Program and clinical offerings in the course catalog.

Non-Law Coursework

A student enrolled in the law school may earn up to 18 credits toward the Juris Doctor degree for advanced course work taken in other units of the University. Prior approval must be obtained from the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and applications must show that such course work will contribute significantly to the student's professional education. Law credit will be granted only for courses in which the student receives a grade of 2.7 or better. Normally, only 400 or graduate-level courses will be approved. Grades from non-law courses will not be used in computing a student's grade-point average. Students pursuing a concurrent degree program who wish to take advantage of the full allowance of 18 credits of non-law course work should realize that they will not be able to earn externship credits.

Academic Counseling

The faculty recommends that each student take at least one course that is intended in part to provide a perspective on the legal system and its development. Examples include courses concerning legal philosophy, legal history, jurisprudence, legal method and foreign, international or comparative law. Valuable perspectives are also provided by substantive law courses that study the evolution of legislative and judicial responses to important economic and social changes.

To assist each student with planning a program of study consistent with that student's goal, academic counseling is available from the Center for Career Development and individual faculty and deans at the law school.