The typical first-year curriculum for law school will go a little something like this:

  • booksCivil Procedure (95%)
  • Contracts (95%)
  • Criminal Law (87%)
  • Legal Research & Writing (81%)
  • Property (86%)
  • Torts (89%)

*The percentages shown after each subject are the percent of full-time programs requiring it for 1Ls. Those numbers were taken from from Andrew J. McClurg’s 1L of a Ride, which can be found here.

Another common requirement is Constitutional Law (59%). The curriculum has changed little over the years and we don’t expect a major shift anytime soon.

Below are brief descriptions of each course:

Civil Procedure

Explores the rules and principles that govern litigation of a civil case.


Among other topics, contracts involves the formation, performance and breach of agreements.

Criminal Law

As you probably could have guessed, Criminal Law is the study of criminal offenses and defenses. Your course may focus on statutes of the state where your school is located, common law, the Model Penal Code (a uniform code of criminal law), or a combination of the three.

Legal Research & Writing

The course focuses on how and where to find information, and how to write memos and briefs. Don’t be fooled by the title of Legal Research & Writing, though, as you’ll also be required to present oral arguments and practice other skills that are crucial for attorneys.


You’ll study the ownership and transfer of personal and real property. A lot of the law here comes from old cases, and we mean old.


Not to be confused with Pop-Tarts, Torts is the study of civil wrongs for which one can seek money damages. Here you’ll find your infamous medical malpractice and automobile accident cases, among others.


Related links: