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J.D. Course Selection FAQ


a. You must take 87 total units.

You must earn 87 total units to graduate. The number of units that first-year law students earn varies from a minimum of 27 units and maximum of 30 units (the maximum is 31 units if students are in the Epstein Program and take the Epstein Program workshop).

If a first-year law student earns 30 units during their first year of law school, they would have to take about 14-15 units each semester during their 2L and 3L years in order to earn 87 units to graduate.

12 units is the minimum amount of units you must be enrolled in during each semester. 16 units is the maximum units a semester that you can take. (You can take up to 17 units if you have a good reason for doing so and approval from the Dean of Students) If you take fewer units in one semester, you will need to take more units other semesters or complete J-term units. Students have the option of taking optional J-term courses during the winter break where they can earn up to three additional units.

b. You must write a Substantial Analytic Writing (“SAW”) paper

You can choose to write your SAW paper any semester. However, we encourage you not to leave your SAW paper for spring semester of your final year of law school. Most students write their SAW papers during the spring semester of their 2L year or the fall semester of their 3L year. For more information about the SAW paper requirement, click HERE.

You can complete your SAW paper requirement in the following ways:

  • You can enroll in a seminar that allows you to fulfill the SAW requirement. To determine whether a seminar allows you to write a SAW paper, click on the title of the seminar in the course schedule to reach the course description. If it says “Yes” you’re good to go. If it says “Per instructor’s discretion” that means that the professor may consider allowing you to write a SAW paper for the course, but you should email the professor about it prior to enrollment if you want to be sure.
  • You could do an independent research paper (Law 340, a.k.a. “independent study”) and write an original scholarly paper under the supervision of a law professor. You must do an independent study for at least 2 units to receive SAW credit (this is typically at least 20-25 pages). For more information about independent research click HERE. Keep in mind that independent studies require a good amount of initiative and self-regulation since you will not be writing a paper as part of a formal class and you will be responsible for completing the paper and meeting deadlines, under the supervision of a faculty member.

c. You must take Professional Responsibility

You may take a course in professional responsibility (“PR”) any semester. The course titled “Professional Responsibility” (Law 312) is offered every semester and is the most common course taken to fulfill this requirement. Other courses that satisfy this requirement are sometimes available. If you plan to seek admission to the New York Bar, you must take one of the following courses: Professional Responsibility (Law 312), Legal Ethics in Practice (Law 682) or Professional Responsibility Issues in Business Transactions (Law 258); no other course count for New York.

You are encouraged to take PR prior to your final semester of law school. Students who have not fulfilled the PR requirement prior to then will automatically be enrolled in a PR section and those units will be counted toward first pass units.

Note: Taking the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) is not required to graduate from law school, but successful passage of the MPRE is required for admission to state bars. Therefore, you are encouraged to pass the MPRE before you graduate. The MPRE is offered three times per year, and you may choose to take the exam before or after you take.

While PR is helpful for the MPRE, you also should plan to undertake additional study on your own for the MPRE.

d. You must complete 6 units of experiential coursework

You can fulfill experiential units any semester by taking experiential courses, clinics or externships. Clinical and experiential courses are numbered 700 and above in the schedule.

e. You must take Property Law and Criminal Law before graduating.

It is up to you when you want to take Property Law and Criminal Law.