Recognizing the importance of imparting basic legal skills and concepts to beginning law students, the faculty has established a required set of courses in both the day and evening divisions. The first-year day-division curriculum consists of seven required courses, three of which (Civil Procedure, Contracts and Lawyering Skills) are year long. In addition, Constitutional Law is split into two separate courses (Constitutional Law I and Constitutional Law II) taken In the Spring of the first year and Fall of the second year respectively. Evening-division students are required to complete the same basic seven courses within the first two years of their law school career.
Civil Procedure (6 hrs.)
This course introduces students to the judicial system and the basic problems and concepts involved in the adjudication of civil cases. The litigation process from jurisdiction through appellate review is covered. Topics include jurisdiction, pleadings, pretrial motions, discovery, pretrial conferences, jury trial, post-trial motions, finality of judgments, and appellate review. Exercises that emphasize the skills and values of civil litigation are integrated throughout the course to contextualize the doctrinal material and enhance student learning.
Constitutional Law I (3 hrs.)
Con. Law I introduces students to the study of the powers of the three branches of the federal government, as well as the balance of power between the federal government and states. The course addresses the basis for, various aspects of, and limits on the federal judicial power with respect to judicial review, justiciability doctrines, and sovereign immunity, including the Eleventh Amendment. Federal legislative powers studied include the commerce power, the taxing and spending power, and congressional enforcement powers under the Civil Rights Amendments. The study of federal executive power explores express and inherent presidential powers and limits on these, including the appointment and removal powers, executive privilege and immunity, foreign policy, war powers, and controversies over the scope of executive powers. The study of federalism encompasses the relation of federal and state governments in a federal system including intergovernmental immunities, the negative implications of the Commerce Clause, the Supremacy Clause, the Article IV Privileges and Immunities clause and preemption.
Contracts (6 hrs.)
A study of the fundamental principles of contract law, as expressed in the common law, Article Two of the Uniform Commercial Code, and the Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. Topics include: formation; defenses to enforceability; parole evidence; performance, breach, and discharge; remedies; and third party rights. The course incorporates exercises designed to teach practical skills relevant to the course doctrine, including negotiating and drafting. In addition, the course is designed to teach analysis of common law and statutes and the application of law to factual situations.
Criminal Law (3 hrs.)
The course covers the elements of criminal conduct in general and of specific crimes, which may include rape, the various forms of homicide, drug and theft offenses, anticipatory offenses, group criminality, and both common law and statutory defenses including insanity, provocation, and duress.
Lawyering Skills (4 hrs. — 2 hrs. each semester)
In the first semester, students develop analytical skills, a clear and effective writing style, and the ability to research through drafting office memoranda. In the second semester, students learn advocacy skills through the writing of a memorandum in support of a motion, development of an appellate brief, and oral argument before a panel of attorney judges.
Property (4 hrs.)
This is the basic course in property. It considers such topics as the
nature of “property,” property “interests,” and property as an institution in contemporary society; problems in possession; the historical development of land law and its manifestation in the law of landlord and tenant; and conveyancing.
Torts (4 hrs.)
A study of the noncontractual obligations that an individual in society owes to others according to the common law and statutes.Emphasis is placed on intentional acts violating legally protected interests, such as assault, battery, and false imprisonment; negligent conduct resulting in injury; causation; traditional forms of liability without fault and the more recent development of strict liability for defective products.
Constitutional Law II (3 hrs.)
Con. Law II focuses on the study of individual liberties and civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The course considers the Bill of Rights, the Civil Rights Amendments, other textual provisions safeguarding individual rights, and unenumerated rights protected by the Constitution. Students will study the incorporation of the Bill of Rights with respect to the states and consider the extent to which the rights protected by the Constitution apply to private actions deemed to constitute government conduct under the state action doctrine. Individual rights studied include freedom of speech, press and religion under the First Amendment; rights guaranteed by various clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, including due process (both procedural and substantive), equal protection, and the Fourteenth Amendment Privileges or Immunities clause; as well as rights protected by the Contracts and Takings Clauses.
Professional Responsibility (3 hrs.)
This course, which is a graduation requirement, examines the legal profession and the law that governs the professional behavior of lawyers, including the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, the law of legal malpractice and the relevant rules of agency law, criminal law, civil procedure, and other law. Students will explore ethical questions relating to the lawyer’s role in the legal system and the lawyer’s relationships with clients, adversaries, tribunals, colleagues, employees, witnesses, and others. The course looks at issues that arise in the various roles occupied by lawyers, including advocate, counselor, and negotiator. The course is designed to assist students in recognizing and evaluating ethical dilemmas they may encounter in practice. The course also aims to assist students in gaining knowledge about the legal profession, to clarify their own professional values, and to learn the ethical norms of the legal profession. The course must be taken by every student during the second, third, or fourth year of law school.
Professional Skills — The American Bar Association requires that all students take at least one professional skills course prior to graduation. This requirement applies to those students who entered law school in fall 2006 and after. Professional skills courses in our curriculum include Alternative Dispute Resolution Techniques; Mediation and Arbitration Skills; Mediation Advocacy; Interviewing, Counseling, and Negotiating Skills; Legal Drafting; Appellate Advocacy; Trial Advocacy; Trial Practice; Trial Skills; CCLS Clinics; Innocence Project Clinic and Clemency Project; Immigration Litigation Clinic; Criminal Defense Clinic; and Criminal Prosecution Clinic; Vis International Arbitration Moot Court, and Pre-Trial Litigation.
Upper-level Writing Requirement — Each upper-level student must complete at least two substantial writing projects after the first year of law school. A full description of the requirement is contained in Academic Rule XII —Writing Requirement and Directed Research.
The Catholic University of America