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.

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.

Upon completion of the first year program, students are well-prepared for a summer job or externship in a law office.

Flexible first year option

Though UW Law does not have a part-time, evening program, our flexible first-year option allows students with exceptional circumstances to take a lighter first-year course load. This option allows working professionals and students with family or other obligations to pursue their legal education at UW Law while balancing their commitments. Students are required to meet with our Associate Dean for Students before selecting this option.

The Second and Third Years

The only specific course requirement after the first year is the successful completion of Problems in Professional Responsibility. The candidate must also satisfy the Residence, Public Service, Professional Skills and Advanced Writing requirements. 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 E500 and Law 600.

Lawyering Skills

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


Well over half of the students in each graduating class perform real lawyering tasks in the law school’s extensive clinical program:

  • Child Advocacy Clinic (Law E524)
  • Entrepreneurial Law Clinic (Law E523)
  • Federal Tax Clinic (Law T526)
  • Immigration Clinic (Law B531)
  • International Human Rights Clinic (Law E556)
  • Incarcerated Parents Advocacy Clinic (Law E590)
  • Innocence Project Northwest Clinic (Law E566)
  • Legislative Advocacy Clinic (Law E599)
  • Mediation Clinic (Law B526)
  • Non-profit Organizations Clinic (Law E591)
  • Street Law Clinic (Law B514)
  • Regulatory Environmental Law & Policy Clinic (Law E594)
  • Technology Law and Public Policy Clinic (Law E554)
  • Tools for Social Change: Race and Justice Clinic (Law E530)
  • Tribal Court Criminal Defense Clinic (Law E529)

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 Dean for Students; applications must show that such course work will contribute significantly to the students 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.


The selection of courses in the second- and third-year program is subject to certain limitations:

  1. Only 18 credits may be earned by a student for non-law course work or externships.
  2. Only 8 credits in the aggregate may be earned by a student for Law 600C, D, E, and F.
  3. Only 12 credits in the aggregate may be earned in any calendar academic year for Law E500, Law 600, and seminars, no more than 6 may be earned in any one quarter. A calendar academic year begins with Summer Quarter and ends with the following Spring Quarter.
  4. Some courses in the Law School are offered on a Credit/No Credit basis. There is no limit on the number of non-graded course credits a student may earn. However, it should be noted that membership in the Order of the Coif, the national honor society for lawyers (top 10 percent), is not available to persons who take more than 25 percent of their law school work on a non-graded basis.


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 faculty and deans at the Law School.

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