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Curriculum

Valparaiso University Law School provides a comprehensive study of the foundations of law, an introduction to its substantive areas, and the opportunity to study areas of specific interest. The curriculum focuses on legal analysis, practical training, perspectives on law, legal research, and legal writing.

THE FIRST YEAR

  • Seven-week sessions expedite assessment and feedback
  • New courses on the foundation of legal analysis and professional communications taught by senior faculty
  • Students engage in live-client contact in the first semester of law school.

LEGAL WRITING AND RESEARCH

Rigorous training in legal writing begins in the first year and extends into the second and third years at Valparaiso Law. This includes not just traditional seminars but courses on appellate advocacy, legal drafting, legal journalism, and subject-matter specific advanced legal writing and drafting courses. Valparaiso Law graduates have a reputation for strong legal writing and research skills, and the new curriculum has embraced and enhanced that strength.

CORE SUBSTANCE & SKILLS

Required Courses: Full-Time First-Year Studies

Fall Semester (Two seven-week sessions, total 14 credits)
100/101 Contracts I & II (full semester) Cr. 2.5 & 2.5
110/111 Criminal Law I & II (full semester) Cr. 2 & 2
131 Legal Research I (full semester) Cr. 1
135 Foundations (first 7 wks.) Cr. 2
145 Legal Communications (second 7 wks.) Cr. 1
170 Torts I (second 7 wks.) Cr. 2
315S1 Professionalism Education Requirement Cr. 0

Spring Semester (Two seven-week sessions, total 16 or 17 credits)
120/121 Civil Procedure I & II (full semester) Cr. 2.5 & 2.5
130 Legal Writing I (full semester) Cr. 2
160/161 Property I & II (full semester) Cr. 2.5 & 2.5
171 Torts II (first 7 wks.) Cr. 2
181 Legal Research II (full semester) Cr. 1
182 Legal Methods (full semester) Cr. 1

MANDATORY for all 1Ls that are on probation or in the bottom quartile of the class at the end of their first semester:
191 Intro to Experiential Learning (full semester) Cr. 1
315S2 Professionalism Education Requirement Cr. 0

THE SECOND YEAR

  • Focus is on foundational courses including Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Evidence, and Trust and Estates
  • Students are prepared to take a practice bar examination at the end of the second year

PRACTICAL SKILLS

Valparaiso Law has long been a stronghold of clinical and externship training. Our practical skills training extends from the beginning of the first semester to third-year practicums, nationally recognized externships, and eight live-client clinics in one of the oldest clinical programs in the country.

Required 2L Courses – Required Graduation Credits – “Comprehensive Student Diagnostic”

  1. The 2L curriculum has 25 required credits. All credits beyond the 25 are elective. Assuming a standard 30-credit academic year, this allows for 5 elective credits. The required 2L (i.e., must be taken after the first year and before the third year, summers included) courses are:
    Constitutional Law I & II – 4 credits
    Evidence – 3 credits
    Legal Profession – 2 credits
    Trust & Estates – 3 credits
    Administrative Law – 2 credits
    Business Associations – 3 credits
    Legal Research II Fall – 1 credit
    Legal Writing Fall – 2 credits
    Skills –  5 credits


    Total credits required  25

  2. Additional credits required for graduation (i.e., must be taken after the first year and before the end of the final semester, summers included). Students must take no less than 9 credits from the following list of courses:
    U.C.C. Sales (2 credits) or U.C.C. Secured Transactions (2 credits)
    Tax (4 credits)
    Family Law (2 credits)
    Criminal Procedure Investigation (3 credits) or Criminal Law Adjudication (3 credits)
    Bankruptcy (4 credits)
    Employment Law (3 credits)
  3. At the end of the beginning and end of the second year, a comprehensive exam in the format of a bar exam (“comprehensive student diagnostic”) will be given to assess the students’ progress on curricular learning objectives.

THE THIRD YEAR

  • Students engage in clinical and practicum experiences that integrate courses into specific practice areas
  • Advanced study in writing and research expands practical skills
  • Valparaiso Law graduates are practice-ready from graduation day

The third year is totally elective in nature (with the exception of any unfulfilled graduation requirements outlined in the second year, above and a requirement that all third year students must take a writing/research experience). The feature of the third year is the offering of practicums – coordinated, intensive, and immersive offerings.

PRO BONO: TRADITION MEETS INNOVATION

Valparaiso Law students are required to perform 60 hours of pro bono work before graduation, but most Valparaiso Law graduates exceed that requirement. Pro bono opportunities are available for Valpo Law students reflecting the mission of Valparaiso Law School, which embraces law as a calling to leadership and service.

EXTERNSHIPS

Externship participants have the opportunity to earn academic credit and gain valuable professional experience while performing legal research; honing legal writing skills; and working closely with attorneys, prosecutors, public defenders, government agencies, legal services, and state and federal judges. Open positions are posted each semester, and students must submit a resume and interview with the prospective externship employer.

CLINICAL LAW PROGRAM

Established in 1967, Valparaiso University Law Clinic serves the community and the legal profession. Third-year students represent clients without access to the legal system. Faculty attorneys closely supervise students’ representation of clients, promoting development of advocacy, negotiation, and counseling skills.