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)
  • Torts (4)
  • Contracts (4)
  • Legal Writing, Leadership, Experiential Learning, Advocacy and Professionalism (LLEAP) I (3)
  • Law, Legislation and Regulation (3)
  • Property (4)
  • Civil Procedure (4)
  • LLEAP II (3)
  • 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)
  • Professional Responsibility (3)
  • LLEAP III (3)
    • 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.

Our Legal writing, Leadership, Experiential Learning, Advocacy, and Professionalism (LLEAP) courses

It's a carefully crafted model designed to bring out your best.

Yes, you practice the art of professional relationships. But you also study how to develop strategies that enhance options in even the most challenging circumstances.

You reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses - and learn what others see. You also study negotiation, ethics and practice management.

And you improve communication and presentation skills, whether the audiences are colleagues, big clients or opposing counsel.

More Writing

The power of your prose puts you above competitors.

Our new curriculum does more than introduce such skills; instead, the emphasis stretches through the third year and roughly doubles requirements at other places.

How else can you master the multiple forms you'll face in practice? How do you break down a complex case in language a lay business client can understand? Or a memo to a foreign tribunal whose jurists are less familiar with tenets of international law?

Effective research and analysis apply in every instance. But you increase impact when you consider the reader - and apply an approach that matches their expectations.