JD Curriculum

law students with laptops in a circular theater classroom

What Makes Our Curriculum Different?

  • work with clients beginning in the first semester
  • learn transactional drafting, financial literacy, and statutory and regulatory analysis in your first year
  • spend an entire semester working full-time in one of our on-campus clinics or externships in the U.S. or around the world
  • pursue one of several concentrations similar to college majors
  • spend a semester as a 2L or 3L abroad studying at one of our 17 partner schools around the world
  • spend your third year in Europe, completing a foreign LLM in addition to your Case Western Reserve JD, at no additional cost

Year-by-Year Breakdown

Year One:

Law student in class

You work with clients in your first semester. You also take the basics: Criminal Law, Contract Law, Torts, Property and Civil Procedure.

And you start a three-course plus capstone sequence that involves legal writing, leadership, experiential learning, advocacy skills and professionalism.


  • Criminal Law (3 credits)
  • Torts (4 credits)
  • Contracts (4 credits)
  • Legal Writing, Leadership, Experiential Learning, Advocacy and Professionalism (LLEAP) 1 (3 credits)
  • Law, Legislation and Regulation (3 credits)
  • Property (4 credits)
  • Civil Procedure (4 credits)
  • LLEAP 2 (3 credits)
  • A choice of 2 electives (1 credit each)

Year Two:

law student listening in class

You build on the first year's core courses and begin classes that cover key bar exam subjects (Business Associations, Constitutional Law, Evidence, Wills and Sales).

You continue the three-course writing and skills sequence choosing an advanced course in either litigation or transactional skills. And you add electives.

You can follow a specialty concentration in health, international law, intellectual property law, business law, criminal law or civil litigation and dispute resolution. Or you can take individual classes to identify the area that appeals to you the most.


  • Constitutional Law (4 credits)
  • Professional Responsibility (3 credits)
  • LLEAP 3 (3 credits)
    • Choice of advanced litigation skills or advanced transactional skills
    • Both options include financial principles for lawyers
  • Concentration courses and electives
  • Core Courses (e.g., Evidence, Criminal Procedure, Wills, Federal Courts, Business Associations, etc.) Some of these may be required as part of a concentration, others are strongly recommended bar tested courses.
  • Upper-level writing requirement. This may be met through a seminar, journal, lab or other writing option.
  • Experiential education requirement. This may be met through clinics, externships, labs, or other skills courses.

Year Three:

a law student speaking with faculty

It all comes together in the capstone.

It’s an intensive real-world experience - an externship, a role as a staff attorney in one of our clinics or even an opportunity you create in another state or another country - so long as it involves subject knowledge, along with writing and practice skills.

Then it’s more core courses and specialty electives. And the sure knowledge that you are fully prepared for whatever professional path you pursue.


  • Capstone Experience (minimum 6 credits, maximum 12 credits).
    • Clinic Capstone - On-Campus
    • External Capstone - in the U.S. or abroad
  • Core Courses
  • Electives

Graduate Practice-Ready

Want to know what employers expect in this new legal environment? Ask them. We did.

Conversations with more than 70 hiring partners, CEOs and other leaders provided a picture so precise it can be summed up in two words: client ready.

Yes, that phrase means graduates need to be able to apply theory to cases. But it also involves understanding how to engage clients, develop business and intuit the unique approach that each situation requires.