First Year Courses

Students in the first year take five core courses: contracts, torts, property, criminal law, and civil procedure. This curriculum provides a general foundation of legal knowledge, promotes an understanding of the process of development of the law through judicial decisions and statutory interpretation, and cultivates the skill of legal reasoning. In addition to the traditional offerings, Chicago has a unique first-year course called Elements of the Law. Elements introduces students to the law as an interdisciplinary field through interactions with fields such as philosophy, economics, psychology, and political theory, and gives students the tools to continue the interdisciplinary inquiry throughout their legal education. Students are grouped into sections of approximately 30 students. Two or three of these sections combine for the substantive courses, and sections are rotated throughout the year so students take classes with as many of their classmates as possible.

All first-year students participate in the legal writing program under the supervision of one of the six Bigelow Teaching Fellows. “Bigelow” (as the course is known) introduces students to the standard tools and techniques of legal research and requires students to write a series of legal memoranda and briefs. In the Spring Quarter, each student prepares an appellate brief and argues the case before a panel of judges composed of members of the faculty and practicing alumni. The Bigelow course is taught in small sections of approximately 30 students. Learn more about the Bigelow program.

Sample 1L Schedule

Autumn Quarter
  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
8:30   Legal Research and Writing (9:10-10:15) (Zambrano)     Legal Research and Writing (9:10-10:15) (Zambrano)
9:45 Criminal Law I (McAdams) Elements of the Law (10:25-12:10) (Strahilevitz) Criminal Law I (McAdams) Criminal Law I (McAdams) Elements of the Law (10:25-12:10) (Strahilevitz)
11:00 Civil Procedure I (Buss)   Civil Procedure I (Buss) Civil Procedure I (Buss)  
12:05-1:30          
1:30   Torts I (1:30-3:15) (Hemel)     Torts I (1:30-3:15) (Hemel)
2:45          

 Autumn Quarter Exams: Civil Procedure I and Elements of the Law

Winter Quarter
  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
8:30   Legal Research and Writing (9:10-10:15) (Zambrano)     Legal Research and Writing (9:10-10:15) (Zambrano)
9:45 Property I (Fennell) Contracts I (10:25-12:10) (Ben-Shahar) Property I (Fennell) Property I (Fennell) Contracts I (10:25-12:10) (Ben-Shahar)
11:00          
12:05-1:30          
1:30 Torts II (Chilton)   Torts II (Chilton) Torts II (Chilton)  
2:45 Criminal Law II (Rappaport)   Criminal Law II (Rappaport) Criminal Law II (Rappaport)  

 Winter Quarter Exams: Torts and Criminal Law

Spring Quarter
  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
8:30          
9:45 Contracts II (Baird) Lawyering (9:10-10:15) (Zambrano) Contracts II (Baird) Contracts II (Baird) Lawyering (9:10-10:15) (Zambrano)
11:00 Property II (Fennell) Civil Procedure II (10:25-12:10) (Hubbard) Property II (Fennell) Property II (Fennell) Civil Procedure II (10:25-12:10) (Hubbard)
12:05-1:30          
1:30 The Constitution Goes to School (Driver)   The Constitution Goes to School (Driver) The Constitution Goes to School (Driver)  
2:45          

Spring Quarter Exams: Property, Contracts, Civil Procedure II, and The Constitution Goes to School

Note: 1Ls may choose from among 7-9 electives in the Spring Quarter.