For students

1.11 Course Planning

Each spring and summer, the Law School makes a tentative determination about which classes[1] will be offered in the following year and who will teach them. Suggestions for new class offerings should be brought to the attention of the Registrar.  To facilitate students’ ability to plan their classes for the year, the Law School makes every effort to set the course schedule for the entire academic year prior to the beginning of the autumn quarter.  Students should take note, however, that the class schedule is subject to change at any point throughout the year, and classes may be added, dropped, or their times adjusted to reflect changes in faculty availability, student enrollment, or other institutional constraints.  The Law School will of course try to mitigate these changes as much as possible, while also providing notification of changes as early as is feasible.     

The class schedule can be found online at http://registrar.uchicago.edu/classes. Students are encouraged to utilize the refine search tool, which will help students determine if classes meet certain requirements (e.g., core, professional responsibility, etc.). A PDF version of the academic schedule can be found online at: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/students/registrar/courseschedules.

Students have freedom to tailor their programs to their own interests and needs, although all students are expected to design programs that will provide them with a strong foundation in the standard subject areas of the law. Students also should find some area or areas to pursue in special depth and breadth, either because of particular career inclinations or for the intellectual value of doing so.  Students are advised against excessive specialization, however, as lawyers are not expected to be specialists when they graduate from law school, and it is impossible to foresee future career changes and challenges. The freedom of the elective policy places responsibility on students to develop a coherent program that provides a sound general background and meets individual interests and objectives. Some specific considerations are set forth below in the section on Selecting Classes. Students receive additional guidance on class selection from the Deputy Dean and the Dean of Students in August before their second year of law school.  Students also are encouraged to consult with the Deputy Dean, the Dean of Students, members of the faculty, Career Services staff, or the Registrar for additional guidance on their programs.

The curriculum at the Law School changes from year to year as faculty members are encouraged to experiment with new offerings. In addition, classes available in a given year are determined in part by the composition of the faculty and the availability of visitors and lecturers. As a result, the curriculum may vary substantially from year to year. Accordingly, students are encouraged to take classes when they are offered rather than risk missing out on a class.

While there can be no assurance that a class offered one year will be offered the following year, a core group of courses is typically offered each year, including: Administrative Law, Antitrust, Bankruptcy and Reorganization: The Federal Bankruptcy Code, Business Organizations/Business Associations/Corporation Law, Constitutional Law I, Constitutional Law II, Constitutional Law III, Copyright, Criminal Procedure I: The Investigative Process, Federal Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Federal Courts, Securities Regulation, Introductory Income Taxation, Labor Law, classes in Law and Economics, Legal Profession, Public International Law, Secured Transactions, and Corporate Tax I and II.

Selecting Classes[2]

Selecting Second Year Classes

Although no specific classes are required during the second year, certain classes are considered foundational and commonly are taken by a large number of students in the second rather than the third year. These courses include: Administrative Law, Business Organizations/Business Associations/Corporations, Constitutional Law I, Evidence, and Introductory Income Taxation.

In planning a program, students should consider some classes to be predicates for more advanced work in the same general field. In the field of business law, for example, a second-year student should consider taking Business Associations/Business Organizations/Corporation Law and Corporate Tax I, which provide a basis for advanced work in the third year in such courses as Bankruptcy and Reorganizations, Business Strategy, and Securities Regulation.  Administrative Law most often has been taken as a second-year course, since it serves as a survey of general principles in the field and thus forms a background for understanding the operation of administrative agencies and procedures in a variety of special subject areas, such as labor law, securities regulation, taxation, public utility regulation, the communications industry, etc. Students who plan to take Trial Advocacy or to work intensively in a clinical program typically take Evidence, and possibly a course on criminal procedure, in the second year.

It is important that in structuring their program students strike a sensible balance between traditional courses such as Business Associations/Business Organizations/Corporation Law, Constitutional Law, Evidence and Tax on the one hand, and seminars, workshops, and more specialized classes such as Contract Drafting & Review and Fair Housing, on the other. Students should try to divide their traditional classes between the second and third years to maintain this sense of balance.

Students are strongly encouraged to complete one upper level writing project (either the WP or SRP) in their second year. This will ensure students are not having to complete both projects their final year.

Students will receive two experiential learning credits in the spring of their first year. Heading into their second year, students are strongly encouraged to choose a pathway of courses that will allow them to complete at least four experiential learning credits by the end of their second year.

The Law School strongly recommends that all students complete a minimum of 20 credits designated as core by the end of their second year. 

Selecting Third Year Classes

The third year provides an opportunity for students to complete outstanding degree requirements while also rounding out their knowledge of basic subject areas and to take classes in fields of special interest. It also should have distinct intellectual objectives, including (1) taking advanced classes in a field in which students have acquired some foundation in the second year; (2) taking classes that cut across subjects previously studied and emphasize the application of legal principles to concrete problems as they come to the lawyer in practice; and (3) interdisciplinary studies that help give students a broad and critical appreciation of legal institutions and their development.

Graduation

Students may graduate at the end of all four University quarters, although the vast majority of students graduate at the conclusion of the spring quarter. Students wishing to graduate in autumn, winter, or summer quarters must follow certain guidelines when selecting classes for their last quarter.

All papers for summer, autumn, and winter quarter candidates for graduation are due approximately two weeks prior to the University’s final grade submission deadline. Please refer to the Academic Calendar for deadlines at http://www.law.uchicago.edu/students/academiccalendar. These deadlines are firm and cannot be waived or modified by faculty.

Additionally:

(1)        Students graduating in autumn who need to complete autumn coursework may not register for exam classes because final grades are due to the University prior to the start of final exams.

(2)        Depending on the academic calendar for the specific year, students graduating in winter might be able to register for exam classes, provided that:

      1. The exams are take-home and self-scheduled or scheduled sufficiently early in the exam period; and
      1. The student agrees to take the exam(s) at least one day before final grades are due to the University; and
      1. The faculty member agrees to grade the exam so as to meet the University’s grading deadline.

Unless all three conditions are met, the autumn rules above apply.

(3)        The Law School offers no summer quarter classes for purposes of graduation, and students may not take summer quarter classes in other University units and apply them towards the J.D. degree without written permission from the Dean of Students.  Students may, however, register for an independent research at the Law School, complete pending Law School work from prior quarters or enroll in classes required to fulfill graduation requirements of a dual degree other than the J.D. degree and therefore officially graduate at the end of the summer quarter. 

Students who graduate in the summer, autumn and winter quarters may participate in the spring quarter Law School Diploma & Hooding Ceremony subsequent to the quarter of their graduation.

[1] Each year, the Law School has a broad array of offerings.  For purposes of this Student Handbook, “classes” refers to all of the Law School’s offerings with a classroom component and includes courses and seminars. “Courses” refers to Law School’s offerings with a classroom component that are not seminars.

[2] Students receiving federal financial aid must demonstrate continuing progress in their program of study.  Student Loan Administration assesses progress by reviewing a student’s grades each quarter; specifically, SLA expects students on financial aid to have at least one graded class within 35 days of the conclusion of the exam period.  Thus, all students receiving financial aid are strongly encouraged each quarter to take at least one class that will be graded at the end of the quarter.