FAQs: Academic Program and Curriculum

Do J.D. students select a concentration or specialty?

Our program is very flexible and we do not ask students to select a concentration or specialty. Our curriculum offers over 170 different courses and seminars and provides students the academic freedom to tailor the curriculum to meet their needs. Although they are not formal concentrations, you can learn more about some of our areas of study by clicking here.  

What are the advantages to Chicago's approach to academics?

We find that our broad and well-rounded curriculum prepares students for any path that their interests and careers may take while providing the option to explore a range of legal subjects. We believe our approach is less repetitive, more fun, and it trains our students to be well-rounded lawyers and problem solvers.

Does the Law School curriculum focus on any particular area?

The Law School is known for the strength of its teaching in all areas and the quality of training and preparation that our students receive instead of focusing on any narrow practice areas. The curriculum is broad with significant depth in many different topical areas and emphasizes rigorous and interdisciplinary professional training.

What does it mean that Chicago is known for Law and Economics?

Law and Economics is one of the many interdisciplinary traditions that have thrived at the Law School. Law and Economics applies economic methods and concepts to the analysis of law. Economics provides a tool for studying how legal rules affect the way people behave. Knowing what kinds of insights economics can offer to the analysis of legal problems is an important part of a legal education. Read more here about our Law and Economics program.

Will I be at a disadvantage if I don't have any training in economics?

While the Law School is extremely proud of its strength and influence in Law and Economics, our curriculum is highly diverse and interdisciplinary. It is not necessary to have an economics background. The economics discussed in most classes is theoretical rather than quantitative and it is used as one approach among many to examining legal issues. Our professors teach students what they need to know and do not assume any knowledge of economics theory. Economics majors do not have any particular advantage in the admissions process or in the classroom. Our curriculum blends the study of the law with many disciplines, including the humanities, natural sciences, and other social sciences beyond economics.

May law students take courses outside of the Law School?

Absolutely. Interdisciplinary inquiry is a core component of our academic philosophy. Students may take up to 12 credit hours (usually four classes) anywhere else in the University during their second and third years (and we are located within easy walking distance of nearly the entire University). Students often take these classes in the Booth School of Business, the Harris School of Public Policy, the School of Social Service Administration, the Pritzker School of Medicine, and a variety of graduate departments.

Does the Law School offer clinical programs?  

Yes, we have a wide variety of outstanding clinical programs available at the Law School. The Mandel Legal Aid Clinic offers several distinct clinical projects that allow students to engage in litigation-based projects and, in some cases, legislative work. Recent additions to our clinical programs include an Environmental Law Clinic, an International Human Rights Clinic, a Prosecution and Defense Clinic, and a Gendered Violence clinic.  In addition, the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship is a transactional clinic that serves entrepreneurs in economically disadvantaged communities. The Law School also offers the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights and the Exoneration Project. Clinical courses are available to second and third year students.

Does the Law School offer joint degree programs? 

Law students may pursue dual or joint degrees with any department in the University. We have three established joint degree programs with the Chicago Booth School of Business (both M.B.A. and Ph.D.), the Harris School of Public Policy Studies (M.P.P.) and the Divinity School (M. Div.). Students must apply to each program separately and students may apply to the joint degree programs either prior to or during law school (depending on the requirements of each program). In addition to these more formalized joint degree programs, the Law School allows students to pursue dual degrees with other programs within the University, including Ph.D. programs in other departments. If you would like more information, the Joint Degree Handbook is available here

Students with an interest in the University of Chicago's history of excellence in the field of economics may also be interested in the Coase-Sandor Institute for Law and Economics, which was founded in 2011. The goal of the Institute is to promote the understanding and dissemination of the economic approach to law. It supports research and learning by students, faculty and fellows, and organizes events and activities in Chicago and beyond. More information about the Coase-Sandor Institue for Law and Economics can be found here.

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