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Juris Doctor (J.D.) Degree Program

Term I — First Year

  • Introduction to Law, Legal Analysis, and Legal Research (4 units)
    Introduction to the basic concepts of law and legal analysis, and the history of the American system of jurisprudence and juristic theory that originated from, and was developed and formulated through, the common law of England, and is now recognized as an organic part of the jurisprudence of most of the United States.

  • Contracts (6 units)
    A study of the promissory agreements that exist between two or more persons or entities and that create, modify, or terminate legal relationships. The different classifications of such agreements and the requisite elements of each will be distinguished.

  • Criminal Law (4 units)
    A study of key aspects of criminal law including how the criminal process works; common law origins of criminal law and statutory modifications; an introductory overview of basic criminal procedure to enable understanding of criminal law; the fundamental bases of substantive criminal law, including definitions of criminal conduct, principles and scope of criminal liability and defenses to liability; classification of crimes; and elements of major crimes.

  • Torts (6 units)
    An analysis of the historical development and purposes of tort law, and analysis of the major categories of torts: intentional, negligent, and strict liability. Tort injuries are covered from causation through remedy for cases involving injuries to person, including physical and emotional harm and harm to reputation, and injuries to property, including both real and personal property. Discussion is included for specific topics such as defamation of character, invasion of privacy, misrepresentation, products liability, and modern torts such as wrongful death.

Term II — Second Year

  • Business Associations (6 units)
    A study of the various structures for businesses. Agency law is covered, including creation of an agency, the master and servant relationship, and the authority and duties of both agent and principal, including the fiduciary responsibilities. Partnerships, from creation through winding up, and the rights, duties, and liabilities of partners are also covered. Finally, formation and types of corporations are covered, as well as the rights and duties of directors, shareholders and corporate officers. Attention is given to court made legal principles and to the rapidly expanding impact of federal regulation of corporations and securities.

  • Criminal Procedure (4 units)
    A course that covers the legal methods for apprehending persons accused of committing criminal acts. The rights of those accused of crimes are covered, along with methods of protecting those rights and remedies for violations. The criminal process from commission of a crime and apprehension through the various phases of adjudication are also covered.

  • Real Property (6 units)
    A study of the body of law relating to land and improvements thereon; as distinguished from movable personal property. The English Common Law as it relates to real property will be emphasized.

  • Remedies (4 units)
    A study of the remedies available for tort and contract matters, including both legal and equitable remedies. Specific legal remedies for various injuries and contract breaches and computation of damages is included. Additionally, analysis of equitable remedies will equip the student to understand the phases and requirements for the imposition of injunctions.

Term III — Third Year

  • Civil Procedure (6 units)
    A survey of the civil process that covers each step from initial complaint through appeals. Personal and subject matter jurisdiction are thoroughly covered, and venue and transfer rules are presented. The Erie Doctrine, its development, and its applicability in modern civil actions is covered. Also addressed are the handling of multiple claims and parties, including class actions. Finally, procedural trial issues such as discovery methods, trial process, appellate review and its limitations, and the effects of the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel are covered.

  • Constitutional Law (6 units)
    A study of a wide range of topics drawn from the United States Constitution, beginning with the powers of the various branches of government and the concept of separation of powers. Authority to hear cases, including the Case and Controversy Doctrine are presented, as is the division of powers between the federal government and the states. The power of the government to regulate economic and personal interests is thoroughly covered, including the levels of protection from interference with personal interests, equal protection, and due process. Finally, due process and procedure, the concept of state action, and the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion are thoroughly covered.

  • Evidence (4 units)
    A study of the importance of getting evidence admitted and on the trial record, and the process by which this is accomplished. First, the requirements related to relevance are introduced, then the reasons why relevant evidence may be excluded, including a thorough presentation of the hearsay rules and exceptions. Special evidentiary rules such as confidentiality of certain communications and privileges are explained. Both testamentary and documentary evidence are covered, including admissibility requirements for both.

  • Professional Responsibility (Ethics) (4 units)
    A study of the role and duties of a lawyer, including the duty to the court, to the client, and to society. Regulation of attorneys’ conduct and disciplinary action are covered, including the varying requirements of the Model Rules and Model Code. Both aspirational goals of conduct and disciplinary rules are presented. The rules and practical application of the duty of confidentiality, potential and actual conflicts of interest, advertising and solicitation, and other key aspects of ethical obligations will be covered. Additionally, judicial ethics will be addressed.

Term IV — Fourth Year

  • Administrative Law (5 units)
    A study of the history and creation of administrative agencies, generally via legislative action. Control of administrative agencies is considered, with attention to the competing interests and powers of the executive and legislative governmental branches, as well as to the monitoring and direction by the judicial branch. Formal and informal administrative actions are studied, focusing on rulemaking and administrative adjudication. Finally, investigation and discovery of administrative agency action and challenges to such actions are covered.

  • Community Property (3 units)
    An overview of the ways ownership of property by married persons is classified, followed by consideration of how the various classifications affect the disposition of property both upon dissolution and death. Presumptions related to classification of property are covered, as are exceptions to those presumptions. Finally, selected provisions of the California codes related to community property are reviewed.

  • Practical Skills Elective (6 units)
    Fourth year students take one of the following four elective courses: Legal Document Drafting, Legal Practice, Professional Skills, or Trial and Appellate Advocacy.

  • Wills, Trusts, and Estates (6 units)
    This course is a study of the laws related to succession of property upon death of the owner. Various means of passing property to those designated by the property owner are covered, including gifts during life as well as upon death. Wills, intestate succession, and trusts are the primary focus.


Elective courses are for third and fourth year students, and for transfer students who have already completed all or most of the NWCU standard curriculum but need additional courses to meet graduation requirements.

  • Legal Document Drafting (6 units)
    A course that exposes students to basic legal document drafting in various settings. Drafting techniques common to most legal documents will be explored from the perspective of a small law office setting. The student will draft complaints, motions, answers, contracts, legislation, and wills. Additionally, students will consider the effect their writing style has upon the documents they draft, and they will learn about various resources to help in document drafting.

  • Legal Research (6 units)
    A course that focuses on resources and methods to conduct legal research using primary and secondary resources available online or through physical law libraries. The course is devoted to the development of advanced research skills, planning strategies, and writing.

  • Legal Practice (6 units)
    Practical training that allows students to create a meaningful purpose for themselves in the field of law, to choose an area of specialty, and to determine the kind of practice in which they would be most interested or best suited. The course requires work in a law office that a paralegal, legal assistant or law clerk would perform for a lawyer or lawyers in an ancillary capacity under the supervision of a lawyer. Students will also prepare a paper discussing the ethical, social, practical and moral issues involved in such a practice.

  • Legal Writing (6 units)
    A remedial legal writing course intended for those students who have taken, but not passed, the First Year Law Student’s Exam. Each student will be assigned to a professor who will work one-on-one with the student to improve the student’s writing skills. While the key focus of the course is legal essay writing, the course also introduces common legal writing tasks such as memos and briefs.

  • Medical Jurisprudence (6 units)
    A study of the science which applies the principles and practice of the different branches of medicine to the identification and determination of doubtful questions in a court of justice. Course coverage involves a mixed science of law and medicine, sometimes referred to collectively as “forensic medicine”.

  • Military Law (6 units)
    A survey of the regulations for the governing of armed forces, particularly that branch of the law which respects military discipline and the governance of persons employed in the military service of the United States.

  • Philosophy of Law (6 units)
    A study involved with the application of the rational techniques of the discipline of philosophy to the subject matter of law. Course coverage includes: the nature of law; moral theory and its application to law; crime and punishment; and, law and economics.

  • Professional Skills (6 units)
    A course that provides advanced law students the opportunity to consider what is required in setting up and maintaining a law practice, including both business management skills and lawyering skills. Students will handle a fictitious case, giving them an opportunity to work with the kinds of materials presented to lawyers in practice.

  • Trial and Appellate Advocacy (6 units)
    A practical course designed to prepare students for handling cases at trial. The focus of the course is on planning, case theory, trial strategy and tactics, opening statements, direct and cross examination of witnesses, closing arguments, and writing. Students will choose one area of trial law for focused study in this course.